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Memorial events for Delhi bus rape victim

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memorial for bus rape victim, Jyoti singh, london, delhiViolence against women everywhere must be stopped once and for all.

A public memorial will be held on 16 December to honour Jyoti Singh, the 23 year-old student who was raped and murdered on a Delhi bus one year ago in an attack that caused outrage across India.

The event is being held outside the Indian High Commission in London. It is being organised by ActionAid and will be lead by actor Meera Syal.

It will coincide with a rally in Delhi which will follow the route the bus took Jyoti, known as ‘Nirbhaya’ or ‘The Fearless One’, as she was repeatedly raped and beaten by six men on 16 December last year.

The London memorial event will take place from 8.00am –9.30am  on 16 December at the  Nehru Statue in India Place, outside the High Commission of India, on Aldwych, London, WC2B 4NA.

As well as actor and writer Meera Syal, journalist and campaigner Sunny Hundal and ActionAid’s executive director Richard Miller will address the crowd; Japjit Kaur from the cast of the acclaimed 2013 Edinburgh Fringe play, Nirbhaya, based on the Delhi bus rape, will sing a song from the play while the wreath is laid, and Kalpna Woolf, winner of the Asian Woman of Achievement Award (Media) 2013, will lead those gathered at the memorial to ring bells, symbolising their refusal to be silent on an issue that affects millions of women and girls.

Meera Syal said: “What happened to Nirbhaya is the stuff of nightmares and has haunted many of us since.

“This tragic case marked a tipping point for me and for millions of others in India and around the world when ordinary people took to the streets to all speak out loud and demand that violence against women everywhere is stopped once and for all.

“One in three women around the world will experience violence at some point in their lives and it traps hundreds of millions in poverty, which is why organisations like ActionAid work tirelessly to provide long-term support programmes for survivors and campaigns to end it for good.

“Standing together we can create a world in which all women can thrive in safety, dignity and equality.”

Come, join us! Stop #VAW! #Humanrights

Earlier this year ActionAid India organised a public hearing on rape and sexual assault, probably the first of its kind, attended by thousands of women and men from across the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh – the state which had the highest number of rape cases in 2011.

Fifteen  cases of rape and sexual assault were shared at the hearing by women themselves and 27  cases were highlighted from a fact-finding report.

One of the key demands that emerged from the public hearing was to make police and other law enforcement agencies more accessible to women.

The dismissive attitude and lack of sensitivity that continues to persist among the police and judicial system is an immense hindrance to women seeking justice.

The Indian police force needs to be better trained to deal with cases of sexual violence and support survivors.

The government should establish a 24-hour national helpline specifically for rape survivors and also set up a “Women’s Cell” staffed by police and legal advisors that will take calls directly from women who are affected by violence, and help them with filing reports and court proceedings as well as rehousing and other support if necessary.

In January 2013 a government panel recommended that India should strictly enforce sexual assault laws, commit to holding speedy rape trials and change the antiquated penal code to protect women.

The panel appointed to examine the criminal justice system’s handling of violence against women received a staggering 80,000 suggestions from women’s groups and thousands of ordinary citizens.

Among the panel’s recommendations were a ban on a traumatic vaginal examination of rape victims and an end to political interference in sex crime cases.

It also suggested the appointment of more judges to help speed up India’s sluggish judicial process and clear millions of pending cases.

Many of these recommendations were introduced by the government in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in February 2013 – and ActionAid calls for all these recommendations to be implemented and acted upon.

ActionAid also aims to create solidarity between women’s groups, Dalit groups and other marginalised communities to try to ensure that equal importance is given to each and every case that is reported.

From the cases that ActionAid has worked on it is clear that women from poor, marginalised and socially excluded groups like Dalits, tribal people (Adivasis), the disabled and the urban poor are most at risk from violence.

They are more afraid to report crimes to the police – and less likely to see justice done.

Obviously this must change.

To read ActionAid’s briefing, ‘In memory of Nirbhaya: one year on from the Delhi bus rape has anything changed’, click here.

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