New Delhi Erupts in Protest Over Rape Of a 7-Year-Old Girl At Her School

The Associated Press reported Friday that police are investigating the rape of a 7-year-old girl in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon, leading to renewed protests outside the hospital where the girl is being treated for her injuries, which some speculate may continue on Saturday. NDTV states, "Around 500 people gathered outside the hospital in protest and threw stones and bricks damaging several buses, police PCR vans and shops in the area. Police used lathi-charge and fired tear gas shells to disperse them."

An anonymous Delhi police spokesman told the AP on Friday that the attack had been registered as a rape case, and that police were speaking with teachers and security guards regarding the incident. The attack happened Thursday inside a North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC)-run primary school; the girl was taken to the local police station and then the hospital on Friday morning. One of the doctors treating the girl noted that her injuries were consistent with rape. The girl is reported to be in safe condition.

On Friday, hundreds protested outside Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital. Police have had to use batons to disperse the crowds. BBC Hindi correspondent Sushilkumar Jha reports, "The demonstration was angry and lasted for a few hours — many women were among those gathered. Three large buses were badly damaged as angry local residents pelted them with stones."

"There was a lot of rumour-mongering and a lot of uncertainty and agitation. Some are saying that the protest will be repeated on Saturday. But for now the police are out in force."

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit commented, "The incident is inhuman and shameful. It is a shocking incident. The municipal corporation must strengthen their existing security infrastructure in the school."

News of the attack comes just months after the tragic death of Jyoti Singh Pandey, which led to widespread protest over India's inadequate sexual assault and rape laws. The intensity of these protests prompted calls for serious reform. The 'Verma Report,' a 650-page document detailing the changes that should be made to these laws and their enforcement, suggests that "India does not lack adequate laws on sexual violence or gender bias ... but rather lacks the political and bureaucratic will to enforce them," as reported by the New York Times.

Dikshit noted that the government has urged the NDMC to examine the security situation in its primary schools, both to prevent further assaults and to allay the concerns of parents. An official at the Chief Minister's office suggests that lack of supervision and security at the school may have led to the tragic incident.