“Nirbhaya” (In Hindi, it means "the fearless one") was a 23-year-old physiotherapy student. On December 16, 2012, she was raped on a bus in Delhi, India. Because rape laws in India do not permit using a victim's name she was known only as "Nirbhaya". It is one of the many names the Indian media had given her. In 2013, “Nirbhaya” received the International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State, posthumously.
“Nirbhaya” was born into a working-class family. Her dream was to be a doctor. Her family spent their life savings so “Nirbhaya” could study medicine. She had just graduated from a physiotherapy program.
On December 16, 2012, “Nirbhaya” was attacked on a bus. On the bus she and her male friend were beaten by six men. She was dragged to the back of the bus and repeatedly gang raped for over an hour. The bus driver drove all over Delhi while this was happening. She and her friend were left for dead at the side of the road. Police found them but no ambulance would come. Police took her to the hospital. She was taken into surgery.
The government of India, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, decided to move her to a Singapore hospital. Nirbhaya was in critical condition and on a ventilator. Doctors said there was no medical reason to move her. She was airlifted to Mt. Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
“Nirbhaya”'s case started demonstrations and protests in India. It also started changes in the laws about violence against women. The five men and the bus driver were identified and arrested. They were charged with kidnapping, rape and murder.
One of the men arrested committed suicide in prison. One, who was a teenager at the time, was given three years in a reformatory. That was the maximum allowed for a juvenile in India. The remaining four were given the death penalty. It was Nirbhaya's dying wish the men be “burned alive”. Her parents, who had been demanding they hang, said they were satisfied by the sentences.In 2013, a year after her rape, there was a large increase in the number of persons arrested for rape. But the number of rapes had also risen sharply.
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