A 30-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly raping an 87-year-old woman in India’s national capital, Delhi.
Police said the man was a sweeper who lived close to the woman’s home in the city’s Tilak Nagar area.
The woman, who is bedridden, was alone at home on Sunday afternoon when she was attacked and robbed, police added. The victim’s family had blamed the police for initially only registering a complaint of theft and not of rape – the police have denied this.
Police said that the woman’s family on Sunday had reported only theft – and alleged rape in a second complaint on Monday.
But a relative told the Indian Express newspaper that the police allegedly told the victim and her daughter not to pursue the rape case as it would be “stressful” for them. “The police registered a theft case and didn’t even inform us,” this person said.
The woman lives with her daughter, who was not at home at the time of the assault. She returned to find her mother injured.
The National Women’s Commission said on Monday it had written to the Delhi Police seeking action against the officers who had allegedly not reacted promptly. Rape and sexual violence have been under the spotlight in India since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in Delhi.
After the global outcry over the brutality of the December 2012 Delhi bus rape, India introduced tough new rape laws, including the death penalty in especially horrific cases, and promised to set up fast-track courts to try rape cases. But, campaigners say, things have not changed much on the ground.
“The situation hasn’t changed because protecting women and girls should top the list of government priorities, but it does not even figure there,” says Yogita Bhayana, activist with People Against Rapes in India (Pari), an NGO working with survivors.
Ms Bhayana says there is “no magic wand, no one thing” that can make the problem of gender violence disappear overnight.
She says a lot needs to change – police and judicial reform, greater sensitization of police and lawyers, and better forensic tools. “But above all, we need gender awareness, we need to work to change the mindsets, to prevent such crimes from happening in the first place.”
“I have met a month-old girl and women in their 60s who’ve been raped,” she says, adding that no age group is safe.