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Gang-rape victim succumbs to injuries in India

| Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, 9:02 p.m.
REUTERS
Undertakers and hospital staff carry the body of the Indian rape victim into a van as they leave Mount Elizabeth Hospital for the morgue in Singapore December 29, 2012. The Indian gang-rape victim whose assault in New Delhi triggered nationwide protests has died, the Singapore hospital treating her said on Saturday. REUTERS/Edgar Su (SINGAPORE - Tags: HEALTH OBITUARY)

SINGAPORE — A young Indian woman who was gang-raped and severely beaten on a bus died Saturday at a Singapore hospital, after her horrific ordeal galvanized Indians to demand greater protection for women from sexual violence that affects thousands of them every day.

The 23-year-old “passed away peacefully” with her family and officials of the Indian Embassy by her side, Dr. Kevin Loh, the chief executive of Mount Elizabeth hospital, said in a statement.

She spent 10 days in a hospital in the Indian capital of New Delhi, where the attack occurred. The victim was brought on Thursday to Mount Elizabeth hospital, where she could get specialized care. The Singapore hospital is known for transplants. Loh said by late Friday her condition had taken a turn for the worse.

“Despite all efforts by a team of eight specialists in Mount Elizabeth Hospital to keep her stable, her condition continued to deteriorate,” Loh said. “She had suffered from severe organ failure following serious injuries to her body and brain. She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome.”

The woman and a male friend, who have not been publicly identified, were traveling on a bus in New Delhi on the evening of Dec. 16 when they were attacked by six men.

Police said she was raped for nearly an hour, including with foreign objects, and both she and her companion were beaten with iron bars, stripped of clothes and thrown out of the moving bus.

Indian police have arrested six people in connection with the attack.

Indian High Commissioner, or ambassador, T.C.A. Raghanvan told reporters that the scale of the injuries she suffered was “very grave” and in the end “proved too much.”

He said arrangements were being made to take her body back to India.

The frightening nature of the crime shocked Indians, who have come out in the thousands for almost daily demonstrations. Indian television channels said security had been tightened in New Delhi on Sunday in anticipation of more protests.

The demonstrators have been demanding stronger protections for women and the death penalty for rape, which is punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment.

Women in India confront daily harassment, ranging from catcalls on the streets, groping and touching in public transport to rape.

The tragedy has forced India to confront the fact that sexually assaulted women are often blamed for the crime, which forces them to keep quiet and not report it to authorities for fear of exposing their families to ridicule. The rare prosecutions that reach courts can drag on for years.

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