US 'heartened' at India gang rape case verdict

Washington, Sep 14 (IANS) The US welcomed the verdict of an Indian court in last December's horrific gang rape and murder of a New Delhi woman as the media prominently reported the perpetrators being sentenced to death.

"We are heartened to see that the Indian justice system has spoken and the perpetrators of these heinous attacks have been convicted and sentenced in a court of law," State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters Friday in response to a question.

"Like so many people in India and around the world, we were saddened by this horrific act of violence, yet moved by civil society's response at the same time," she said noting Secretary of State John Kerry had spoken about it and

"cited this woman's bravery and her fight for justice."

"In India, as in all countries around the world, gender-based violence continues to be a challenge that we are focused on countering, on working with people to counter all across the world," Harf said.

The New York Times reported in graphic detail the joyful reaction of Indian people to the four convicted men being sentenced to death, but also noted "Many doubt death sentences will stem India sexual attacks."

"A wave of protests after the December rape have set remarkable changes in motion in India, a country where for decades vicious sexual harassment has been dismissed indulgently, called 'eve-teasing,'" the influential US daily said

"But some of India's most ardent women's rights advocates hung back from Friday's celebration, sceptical that four hangings would do anything to stem violence against women, a problem whose proportions are gradually coming into focus," it said.

The Washington Post too recalled how the case had "sparked days of protests in the capital and around the country and inspired a subsequent anti-rape law that criminalises offenses such as stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks."

"Although rapes in both rural and urban areas of India have continued, advocates say the attention the case received has had an impact," it reported.

"Rape sentencing feels like judgment day for all of India," reported CNN noting "The horrific nature of the crime got to people. It was like a bomb had exploded inside the collective Indian psyche. The nation erupted in outrage."

"Crowds poured into the streets of major cities and openly questioned the civility of their own society," the channel recalled asking, "How could the world's most populous democracy, a nation that had finally made its stand on the global stage, allow such a heinous act to take place?"

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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