Demonstrators shout slogans as they are surrounded by the police during a protest rally in New Delhi December 27, 2012. Several hundred people gathered in India's capital on Thursday in a bid to rekindle mass protests over the gang rape and ferocious beating of a young woman, who was airlifted to Singapore overnight for special hospital care to save her life. (Photo : Reuters)
The 23-year-old medical student who was violently gang raped, beaten and later thrown off a moving bus in New Delhi two weeks ago died of her injuries on Saturday in a Singapore hospital. The woman, whose assault sparked a wave of nationwide protest in India, had been flown to Singapore in critical condition by the Indian government on Thursday, Reuters reported.
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Mount Elizabeth Hospital Chief Executive Officer Kelvin Loh released a statement Saturday, which read, "We are very sad to report that the patient passed away peacefully at 4:45 a.m. on Dec 29, 2012 (3:45 p.m. EST Friday). Her family and officials from the High Commission (embassy) of India were by her side."
According to the Los Angeles Times, six men have been arrested in the December 16 sexual attack that occurred to the woman after she boarded what she believed to be a public commuter bus. Police reported that the driver along with five other men gang raped the 23-year-old, beat and stripped her and a male companion before throwing them off the moving bus.
The young woman's case ignited public outrage and nationwide protests that called for better policing and harsher punishment for rapists, Reuters reported. According to Indian women's rights activists, most rapes and sexual assaults in the country go unreported and offenders rarely receive punishment.
Thousands of New Delhi protesters marched to the presidential palace last weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported. The crowd chanted, "We want justice!" and "Hang them now," to express their anger towards authorities, which do little to protect women who've been assaulted.
The Hindustan Times reported that the woman's family said they hoped their daughter's death would "contribute to making India a safer place for women." Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan told reporters, "The hope that the death of their child will lead to a better future for women in Delhi and India."
He added, "It was very trying for the family. The girl of course was unconscious...I must say they (the family) bore the entire process with a great deal of fortitude and a great deal of courage." Raghavan also said that the victim's body would be flown back to India on Saturday afternoon.
The victim suffered multiple-organ failure after being placed on a ventilator, before ultimately passing away at Mount Elizabeth Hospital. According to the Hindustan Times, the Indian government said it would pay any and all medical bills in Singapore.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee called the young woman "a true hero," the Hindustan Times reported. He said, "I am deeply distressed by the unfortunately demise of the girl. She was a brave and courageous girl who fought till the very last minute of her dignity and her life. She is a true hero and symbolizes the best in Indian youth and women."
"At the same time, let us resolve that this death will not be in vain. We will do everything possible to make sure that such an incident never happens again," the president added.
The Hindustan Times also reported that the government vowed to "take urgent steps to crack down on crime against women and fast-track the prosecution of the accused, who now face possible death penalty."