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People stand for a moment of silence for the 23-year-old Indian woman known only as “Nirbhaya”, who died from injuries she received after being gang raped by six men last December in New Delhi, during the International Women of Courage awards ceremony at the State Department in Washington, DC. In celebration of the 102nd International Women’s Day, the State Department honoured nine women from around the world with the International Women of Courage Award, including “Nirbhaya”.
Washington/new delhi: Nirbhaya, the “fearless” victim of a gang rape in a Delhi bus, who became the focus of women around India and their fight against gender-based violence, was honoured on Friday with a posthumous US “woman of courage” award.
US First Lady Michelle Obama joined Secretary of State John Kerry as he presented nine women the annual award recognising women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk.
At the State Department presentation ceremony on International Women’s Day, Kerry praised the determination and courage of “a woman known simply as Nirbhaya — brave heart, fearless”.
The audience stood up and observed a moment of silence after he read out the citation.
Kerry praised the determination and courage of Nirbhaya describing her as a brave woman whose life was snuffed out in a brutal assault. “As the father of two daughters, I cannot imagine the pain suffered by the parents of the young woman known as “Nirbhaya,” the 23-year-old para-medical student murdered on a New Delhi bus simply for being a woman,” he said.
“Nirbhaya boarded a bus in Delhi last December where she was brutally gang raped, tossed away, left to die. But she kept fighting,” Kerry said.
“As Nirbhaya fought for her life, she fought for justice and gave detailed accounts of her attack used to arrest her rapists. Nirbhaya’s fight survives her. With great sadness, we honour Nirbhaya as a woman of exceptional courage,” Kerry said.
Kerry said he was inspired by “Nirbhaya’s determination, while dying, to bring her assailants to justice, and by their fathers’ courage in speaking out on behalf of their daughters and women everywhere”.
“Nirbhaya’s bravery inspired millions with simple message: No more looking the other way when gender-based violence happens.”
Nirbhaya “has become the foundation of a popular movement to end violence against women in India,” the State Department said. “For millions of Indian women, her personal ordeal, perseverance to fight for justice, and her family’s continued bravery is helping to lift the stigma and vulnerability that drive violence against women,” it said.
Lauding the ‘Woman of Courage’ award, her brother said yesterday that the family would be satisfied only when all the six accused get the death penalty. “True justice will be the true award,” he said.
“We want the death sentence for all the accused, including the juvenile. Only then will we get true justice and will be satisfied,” the 20-year-old said.
He added that he would request President Pranab Mukherjee to ensure that the juvenile accused also gets the death penalty. “He (the president) may use his special power for hanging him with the other five men,” he said. Mukherjee also honoured the young woman with the Rani Laxmi Bai Award in New Delhi.
The awardees for 2013 besides Nirbhaya are Malalai Bahaduri, first sergeant, Afghan National Interdiction Unit (Afghanistan); Julieta Castellanos, rector, National Autonomous University of Honduras (Honduras); Josephine Obiajulu Odumakin, president, Campaign for Democracy (Nigeria); Elena Milashina, journalist, human rights activist (Russia); Fartuun Adan, executive director, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre (Somalia); Tsering Woeser (Wei Se), Tibetan author, poet, blogger (China); Razan Zeitunah, human rights lawyer and founder, Local Coordination Committees (Syria) and Ta Phong Tan, blogger (Vietnam).