Singapore medics battle to save rape victim

December 28, 2012 - 12:00:00 am

The Mount Elizabeth medical centre and hospital in Singapore, where the victim of the gang rape is being treated. Right: Female commuters ride a scooter past a billboard, calling for capital punishment against rape, in New Delhi yesterday.

SINGAPORE/new delhi: Doctors in Singapore battled yesterday to save the life of an Indian student who sustained horrific injuries in a gang rape, after she was dramatically airlifted from a hospital in New Delhi.

As India’s prime minister vowed that the 23-year-old’s attackers would face swift justice, doctors at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital described her condition in the intensive care unit as “extremely critical”.

Dr Kelvin Loh, chief executive officer at the hospital said in a statement: “As at 7pm (1100 GMT) the patient remains in an extremely critical condition. She is under treatment at Mount Elizabeth Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. “Prior to her arrival, she has already undergone three abdominal surgeries and experienced a cardiac arrest in India.

“A multi-disciplinary team of specialists is taking care of her and doing everything possible to stabilise her condition.”

The Indian government, which is paying for the woman’s treatment, approved the decision to transfer her from Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital where she had been treated since the December 16 assault on a bus in the centre of the capital. The victim’s relatives accompanied her to Singapore. “Since the day of the incident, it has been our endeavour to provide her the best of medical care,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said. According to police, six men took turns to rape the woman and assault her with an iron bar, leaving her with severe intestinal injuries, before they threw her out of a bus that they had taken for a joyride.

While doctors in Singapore gave no details about the treatment she has received since her early morning arrival, their counterparts at Safdarjung said Mount Elizabeth was chosen as it has a multi-organ transplant facility. “With fortitude and courage she has survived the after-effects of the injuries so far, but her condition continues to be critical,” B D Athani, medical superintendent at Safdarjung Hospital, told reporters. India has been rocked by a wave of protests since the attack, including one in Delhi yesterday which brought several hundred people onto the streets. Riot police prevented them from marching on government buildings.

The protests have reflected not only the revulsion at the savage nature of the attack but also simmering anger over the level of violence against women.

Official figures show that 228,650 of the total 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year were against women, with the number of rapes in the capital rising 17 percent to 661 this year.

Gang rapes are reported on a daily basis, with police revealing yesterday that a 42-year-old woman had been found overnight dumped on a road in southeast Delhi after being gagged, sedated and raped by three men.

One of the accused, identified as Dilip Verma, has been arrested.

The woman, who runs a boutique in Jaipur in Rajasthan, was dumped outside a school in Kalkaji area of the capital around 10pm. A case has been registered at the Kalkaji police station.

In her statement, she told the police that she knew Verma for the last five years and met him in the pilgrimage town of Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh.

“The woman said she had to come to Delhi for some work, so she accompanied Verma in his car. Later, the accused was joined by two more people and the trio raped her in the moving car,” a police official said. Police said the other two accused are auto-drivers. “She was taken to AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) for a medical check-up after a complaint was lodged. Dilip Verma has been taken into custody,” the official said. The incident took place days after a 23-year-old physiotherapist was gang raped and brutally tortured by five men and a juvenile in a moving bus in the city. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told a gathering of chief ministers yesterday that there was a “problem” which “requires greater attention”. Six men are in custody in connection with the assault on the student. Singh, whose government has been stung by criticism about the notoriously slow Indian justice system, said their case would be dealt with “expeditiously”.

The government has already set up an inquiry commission into the attack while a separate panel has been asked to suggest stiffer punishments. “Laws regarding the safety of women will be reviewed,” Singh pledged.

As part of measures to fight crime against women, the government also announced yesterday  it will post identities and photos of rapists on official websites to shame them in public. India was rocked by a wave of protests in the week after the attack, prompting authorities to seal off large parts of the capital. Several thousand riot police were again on duty yesterday to prevent a group of around 500 people from marching on the presidential palace.“We want justice,” the protesters chanted.AFP/ians