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Indian doctors decry decision to move raped woman to Singapore

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8725 (Published 31 December 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8725

Re: Indian doctors decry decision to move raped woman to Singapore

The Rt Hon Dr J Bhagwati,
High Commissioner to the United Kingdom,
High Commission of India
India House
Aldwych
London
WC2B 4NA

Dear Dr Bhagwati,

GANG-RAPE, DELHI

We are writing to you, alongwith over 500 signatories (medics, judge, lawyers, pharmacists, housewives, business people, etc), as concerned Indian expatriates to express our consternation regarding the recent events in Delhi. The gang-rape and the murder of Jyoti on 16th December 2012 in the supposed safe sanctuary of public transport is a shocking event, and one that has brought shame to us Indians living abroad. The incident has highlighted once more how India’s women are treated by society and the state, where no-one it would seem is safe. How can we sustain our pride in the land of our ancestors if there is no respect for women, where the safety of women who visit India from abroad or relatives in India cannot be ensured, where their basic human rights are frequently trampled on, and where there is no sense of justice when this kind of tragic event happens.

The name of ‘Jyoti’ will be enshrined in the manner in which rape is dealt with. This tragic 23 year physiotherapy intern, whose aggravated rape and subsequent death have highlighted the issue of violence and rape against women in India, will live on in the memories of many. Leaving this case aside, where justice is being demanded so publicly and the punishment will have to be delivered as the Indian population requires it within record time, the conviction rate for rapists is so low that it can only encourage some men to become serial rapists, and others to take comfort from the fact that there is unlikely to be any comeback after their deviant deed. While we await the post-mortem of the political fall-out of the whole sad saga, what is very clear is that women in India will no longer accept the current state of the law and its application, or lack of. Mother India, as she is fondly described, has let down generations of her daughters for far too long.

The death of Jyoti now turns an already horrible crime into murder. It is hard to imagine under these circumstances which is worse - an aggravated gang-rape or the death of a victim who would have been permanently scarred had she survived. Most rapes and other sex crimes in India go unreported and offenders are rarely punished. A global poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place amongst G20 countries for women because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery (http://www.trust.org/documents/womens-rights/resources/G20Poll2012Infogr...). An alarming 52% of women believe it is justifiable for a man to beat up his wife. Add to these the high rates of female foeticide, dowry, the practice of sati, and you would wonder why so little has been done by Indian politicians, society, law makers and the police to stem the tide and bring perpetrators to justice. The depiction of rape in some Bollywood films and the modern glamorisation of Indian heroines completes the image that in India females are meant to be subservient and may be used and abused by a chauvinistic society. Of course not all men are like that, nor are most women door mats, but where a crime is committed against women, the chances of quick and effective justice are embarrassingly low.

Rape in any circumstance is a horrific crime, but the low priority with which the Indian state then deals with it is just deplorable. In India, New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India's major cities, with a rape reported on average every 15 hours, according to The Times of India (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Shame-Delhi-still-Indias-rape-c...). Government data show the number of reported rape cases in the country rose by nearly 17% between 2007 and 2011. Politicians are mute spectators to heinous crimes against women in the country. Perhaps we need to ask how many politicians have rape cases, or have allegations of rape, assault and molestation pending against them (http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Two-MPs-6-legislators-...). We know that many of them are already law breakers and corrupt, and therefore we cannot rely on them to uphold the law.

And so it is important to raise our collective voice against rape as a societal problem. But rape is not something that occurs by itself. It is part of the continuing and embedded violence in society that targets women on a daily basis. A daughter is unsafe at home, school, college, office and almost everywhere else. In Indian villages (where 70% of the Indian population lives), victims of rape, mostly poor, are silenced or humiliated if they dare to report the crime to the police.

Fortunately, the events of last two weeks demonstrate that Indian youths are not just demographic statistics in economic models. They are a potent and fiery political force of change. They are demanding strong laws, gender-sensitive police and fast track courts.
The government of India has responded by setting up a Commission of Inquiry to identify lapses and attribute responsibility for the 16th December gang rape case and it has also constituted a committee of jurists for reviewing the existing laws to provide speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of sexual assault. It may not be too late but it is certainly too little as it does not address the underlying causes of violence against women and marginalisation of a large section of society. In a society where crimes against females are endemic, proper legislation and implementation of laws are paramount.

Additionally, it is also extremely important to change social attitudes towards women. Mothers and fathers have to inculcate in their sons respect for every woman. The commercial portrayal of a woman as a sex object in films and advertisements has affected the male mindset. The government has a role in providing responsive, humane and efficient policing so that crime is prevented, and where it has occurred, for victims to not only see justice being done, but also the sex offenders being appropriately punished.

Jyoti’s death need not be in vain. We ask for the enactment of a new legislation, named after the gang-rape victim. ‘Jyoti’s Law’ should establish the basic principles that in the case of any rape, there should be swift justice, strict punishment, and registration of the rapist’s name on a sex offender’s register. Attitudes of society can be modified with legislative change, education and tighter regulatory controls. The time to act is now, otherwise India runs the risk of the whole issue being shoved under the political carpet, and the danger that further down the line a recurrence of such an event will lead to more than just peaceful protests.

We conclude by requesting you to convey our heartfelt condolences to Jyoti’s family, and we would ask that you express our anger and embarrassment to the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh (to whom a copy of this letter is being sent) as a matter of urgency. We would also suggest respectfully that there is a need to put into place a programme that should include legislation, education, the police authorities and medical services that are sensitive to rape cases, and in this regard we would be grateful if you would agree to meet with us as soon as possible to give you a perspective from our side.

Yours Sincerely,

Dr J S Bamrah
Dr Kailash Chand OBE

cc: Dr Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister

Consulate General
Birmingham

The Rt Hon Keith Vaz, MP
Chairman, Friends of India

Additional signatories:
Professor Parveen J Kumar CBE (ex-President, British Medical Association)
Dr Sabyasachi Sarkar (Chairman, British International Doctors Association)
Dr Ramesh Mehta (President, BAPIO; Physician)
Dr Anita Sharma (Secretary, Indian Medical Association, Manchester)
Dr Santosh Gupta (Chairperson, BIDA Women’s Forum)
Dr Ravi Sharma (Vice-Chairman, Indian Medical Association)
Mr Tarlok Saini, (President, Indian Association, Manchester)
Mrs Raj Datta (General Secretary, Indian Association, Manchester)
Dr Seshgiri Rao Nimmagada (President-elect, British Indian Psychiatric Association; MD)
Dr Satya Sharma MBE (GP)
Dr B. P. Choudhary (General Secretary, Indian Medical Association UK)
Professor Bhupinder Sandhu OBE (Gastroenterologist)
Dr Aseem Malhotra (Cardiologist)
Dr Ranjit Singh Sumra (Neurophysiologist)
Dr Geeta Sharma (GP)
Dr Satnam Sumra (GP)
Dr Mohinder Chopra (Retd Physician)
Dr Anu Chopra (Housewife)
Mrs Jaswinder Kaur Bamrah (Retd Lecturer)
Dr Anisha Malhotra (Retd GP)
Mrs Sheena Kaur Ryait (Pharmacist)
Mr Bhupinder Singh Ryait (Pharmacist)
Mr Sandeep Singh Bamrah (Banking)
Mrs Deepa Bamrah (Marketing)
Miss Sonia Bamrah (Student)
Mr Jaswant Singh Bamrah (Retd)
Mrs Surendra Kaur Bamrah (Retd)
Mrs Pinky Kumra (Banking)
Dr Anil Sethi (Doctor)
Mr Shreyas Raj (Ophthalmic Surgeon)
Dr Preeti Raj (General Practitioner)
Dr Radhakrishna Shanbhag (Justice of Peace; Doctor)
Mr Paul Jairath (Director)
Mrs Deepa Jairath (Director)
Dr Amar Singh Ranote (GP)
Dr Sushima Ranote (GP)
Mr Ravi Naru (Optometrist)
Mrs Meena Naru (Dental Surgeon)
Mr Nirmal Hunjan (Dental Surgeon)
Mrs Sarinder Hunjan (Research Fellow)
Ms Manjit Hunjan (Solicitor)
Dr Kumar Kotegaokar MBE (GP)
Dr Manju Kotegaonkar (Retd GP)
Dr Krishna Korlipara (Retd GP)
Dr Uma Korlipara (Retd GP)
Dr Ashok Pathak (Surgeon)
Dr Parveen Sharma (Psychiatrist)
Dr Raj Sharma (Specialist Doctor)
Mr Shreya Raj (Ophthalmic Surgeon)
Dr Preeti Raj (GP)
Dr Roshelle Ramkisson (Psychiatrist)
Dr Samir Shah (Psychiatrist)
Dr Anand Ahuja (Retd Paediatrician)
Dr Navjeet Dua (GP)
Mr Dinesh Shah (Managing Director)
Mrs Rekha Shah (Director)
Dr Naranjan Khosa (GP)
Dr Arun Bansal (Retd GP)
Dr Shakti Gupta (GP)
Professor Jagdish Sharma (Physician)
Dr Ashwani Garg (Physician)
Mr Ved Goswami (Surgeon)
Mrs Kavita Goswami (Obs & Gynaecologist)
Mr Anshuman Verma (Managing Director)
Mr Rajinder Singh Gill (Businessman)
Mrs Pammi Gill (Business woman)
Dr Kamal Sidhu (GP)
Mrs Gurvinderpreet Kaur Sidhu (Dental Surgeon)
Dr Surender Pratap Singh (Anaesthetist)
Miss Gurjit Kaur Kudhail (Pharmacist)
Mr Mandip Singh Kudhail (Pharmacist)
Dr Sujatha Merve (Psychiatrist)
Dr Ash Merve (Histopathologist)
Dr Shantanu Datta (Doctor)
Mr Amarjit Singh Bamrah (Aircraft Engineer)
Dr Madhu Sahu (Doctor)
Dr Parmanand Prasad (Doctor)
Mr Vijay Gautam (Retd)
Mrs Abha Gautam (Housewife)
Dr Montu Sumra (Doctor)
Dr Priya Sumra (Oncologist)
Professor Anil Jain (Radiologist)
Mrs Bhavna Kapila (Director; Optometrist)
Dr Ajit Kumar Desai (Doctor)
Mr Vijay Solanki
Dr Vishal Sharma (Cardiologist)
Dr Sudip Sikdar (Psychiatrist/Hon Lecturer)
Mrs Manjit Verma (Director)
Dr Tirthankar Mukherjee (Psychiatrist; Hon Research Lecturer)
Prof Ramalingam Chithiramohan (Psychiatrist)
Dr Sumithra Handy (Psychiatrist)
Dr Sandeep Sharma (Obstetrician & Gynaecologist)
Mrs Lily Sharma (Senior Information Analyst)
Mrs Poonam Jairath (Production/Sales)
Mr D. V. Juneja (Director)
Mrs Veena Juneja (Director)
Mr Rishi Soni (Dentist/Businessman)
Mr Talwinder Singh Gill (Surgeon)
Dr Bhramar Saha (Paediatrician)
Dr Ravindra Mene (GP)
Miss Sapna Kapoor (Trainee Solicitor)
Dr Shashi Tripathi (GP)
His Honour Deva Pillay (Judge)
Miss Rachel Margetts (Solicitor of the Supreme Court)
Mr. Deenan Pillay (Solicitors of the Supreme Court)
Dr Hena Brar (GP)
Mr Jay Parikh (Managing Director)
Dr B. K. Sinha (GP; British International Doctors Association)
Dr Mahesh Kamdar (GP)
Mrs Sheila Kamdar
Dr Lok Raj (Psychiatrist)
Dr Ranjit Sandhu (Opthalmologist)
Dr Sunil Mangla (Doctor)
Mr Amit Sinha (Orthopaedic Surgeon)
Mr Nitin Goel (Director)
Dr Devendar Singh Banker (Anaesthetist; Lawyer)
Mr Gurvinder Kalyan (Senior Analyst)
Dr Kadaba S Vasudev (Retd Histopathologist)
Dr Ripu Deo (Psychiatrist)
Dr Manjit Deo (Retd Community Paediatrician)
Dr Paramjit Singh (Emergency Medicine)
Dr Nilika Perera (Specialist Psychiatric Registrar)
Dr Amit Sindhi (Specialist Psychiatric Registrar)
Ms Harsha Patel (Gemini Imports)
Dr S Rao Yannamani (GP)
Mrs R Pitalia
Dr Pyare Pitalia (Doctor)
Mr I M Nayar (Retd Chartered Engineer)
Dr Asha Nayar (Retd Community Paediatrician)
Dr Krishna Srivastava (GP)
Dr Gulzar Saini
Dr Manmohan Lal Saini
Mr. Venu Kavarthapu, FRCS (Trauma &Orthopaedic Surgeon)
Dr Ragni Prasad (GP)
Mr Deepak Prasad (Solicitor)
Dr Amit Chatterjee (Retd Consultant)
Dr Anup Chaudhuri (GP)
Mr Dhiren Pankhania
Mrs Bhavna Kapila (Optomerist)
Mr Manoj Pakhania
Dr Sundeep Sandhu (GP)
Dr PJS Sandhu (GP)
Dr Suprio Ganguly (Radiologist)
Dr Satya Rani (GP)
Dr Chaand Nagpaul (GP)
Mr Prem Modgil (President, Hindu Cultural Society)
Mrs Raj Modgil
Dr Jayam Lazarus (Neurologist)
Dr Madhu Lazarus (GP)
Professor Iqbal Singh (Psychiatrist; President, International Friendship Foundation)
Mr Virender Soni (Opthalmologist; Justice of Peace)
Mr Virendar Sharma (Surgeon)
Mr Prem Sharma (Retd Surgeon)
Dr Vijay Sharma (Retd doctor)
Dr Joginder Pall (GP)
Ms Smita Pattani
Ms Priyanka Pattani
Mr Kishen Pattani
Ms Divali Pujara
Ms Rajni Teli
Ms Pratibha Teli
Mr Vinod Thakker
Dr K. S. Lidhar (GP)
Dr Prakash Mistry (Secretary, International Trust Fund)
Mr Jack Singh (Financial Controller)
Dr Rohit Deepak
Dr Tejpal Ahluwalia (Director)
Mrs Hardaman Ahluwalia (Company Secretary)
Miss Alisha Ahluwalia (Student)
Miss Safal Ahluwalia (Student)
Miss Pampa Sarkar (Gynaecologist & Obstetrician)
Mr Alak Pal (Gynaecologist & Obstetrician)
Dr Arun Mishra (GP)
Dr SriramaShetty VenuGopal OBE (Retd Physician)
Dr Sadagopan Varadarajan (Surgeon)
Mr Krishna Reddy (Surgeon)
Ms Gauri Batra
Dr Swati Raut (Artistic Director)
Dr Gnanamurthy Murugan (GP)
Dr Usha Murugan (GP)
Mr Dahyabhai B. Lad (Retd Welfare Officer)
Mrs Vijay Kapila (Civil Servant)
Mr Jagdish Mitter Kapila (Retd Civil Servant)
Dr Raveendra Katamaneni (Physician)
Dr Kavitha Katamaneni (Gynaecologist & Obstetrician)
Mrs Swapna Das (Local Authority Employee)
Professor Videsh Raut (Orthopaedic Surgeon)
Dr Om Aggarwal (GP)
Mr Musa A Quadir (Businessman)
Mrs Miriam Quadir (Distributor)
Ms Mahajabin Quadir (Consultant)
Ms Mubeen Quadir (Consultant)
Mr Abdul Latif Quadir (Administrator)
Ms Hasina Quadir (Admin Secretary)
Mrs Rabiabibi Quadir (Retd)
Dr Gagandeep Singh (Psychiatrist)
Dr Bal Dhumma (Psychiatrist)
Mrs Prabha Dhumma (Retd)
Dr Subhash Gupta (Retd GP)
Dr Indu Gupta (Retd Pathologist)
Dr Shomik Ghosal (Paediatrician)
Dr Deepak Sachdeva (Psychiatrist)
Dr Kaushik Ghosh (Neurosurgeon)
Mrs Malabika Ghosh (Occupational Therapist)
Mrs Meenu Dua (Accountant)
Mrs Urmil Sood
Mr Krishan Ralleigh (Chief Editor, India Link International)
Mr Vijay Ralleigh (Retd Head Teacher)
Mr Nikhil Kaushik (Opthalmologist)
Mr Subhash Sankadecha
Mrs Nutan Sankadecha
Dr Raman Raj Thankur
Mrs Kalpana Devi Thakur
Mr Prem Vohra (Businessman)
Mrs Maya Vohra (Business woman)
Mr Narendra Patel (Businessman)
Mrs Kamlesh G Patel
Mr Shirish Patel (Businessman)
Mr Pravin V Soni (Businessman)
Mr Vijay Jagpal
Mrs Veena Jagpal
Mr Vidhur Jagpal
Mrs Pragna Shah (Teaching Assistant)
Mr Vijay Shah (FCCA)
Ms Neha Shah (Student)
Dr Harbhajan Singh (GP)
Dr Arun C Mathur (Retd Surgeon)
Mrs Raj Mathur (Social Worker)
Dr Savitha Madhusudan (Opthalmologist)
Dr T. R. Madhusudhan (Orthopaedic Surgeon)
Mr Anand Kulkarni
Mrs Nalini Kulkarni
Mr Manish Patel (Businessman)
Mrs Alka Pate (Business woman)
Ms Sehjal Gupta (Chartered Accountant)
Mr G S Phull
Mrs A.K Phull
Dr Ajay Phankania (Radiologist)
Mr Vijay Kamath
Mrs Pratima Pershad (Social Worker)
Mr Vijay Pershad (Retd Government Officer)
Dr Balwant Singh Banga (GP)
Ms Kanchan Raval (Actress)
Mr Dipak Patel (Justice of Peace; Businessman)
Mr Harish Sharma (Businessman)
Mr Sarabjit Singh Bamrah (Aeronautical Engineer)
Mr Bakul Vyas (Businessman)
Mr Hemant Vyas (Businessman)
Mr Ajay Vyas (Businessman)
Mr Bharat Vyas (Businessman)
Mr Kiran Vyas (Businessman)
Dr Harcharan Singh Sahni (GP; Lawyer)
Mr Dinesh Jhandey (Businessman)
Professor Arup Banerjee (Retd Physician)
Mr Manoj Mistry (Consultant)
Mr Raman Thakur (Businessman)
Mrs Uma Devani
Mr Mukesh Devani
Dr Ankush Singhal (Psychiatrist)
Mrs Manju Sharma (Operations Director)
Dr Rajiv Sharma (Junior Doctor)
Miss Ritti Desai (Pharmacist)
Mr Sunil Desai (Investment Banker)
Mr Paramjit Singh Jheetha (Building Contractor)
Mrs Sumriti Jheetha (Housewife)
Mrs Shubh Sharma (Housewife)
Mrs Usha Sharma (Housewife)
Dr Kanti Gandhi (Engineer)
Dr Yogesh Varmani
Dr Navtej Sathi (Rheumatologist)
Mr Sudesh Luthra (Retd Inspector of Taxes)
Mrs Krishna Luthra (Vice President Vedic Cultural Society)
Mr Vinod Pankhania (Businessman)
Mrs Heera Pankhania ( Airline personnel)
Mr Nimish Pankhaniam (IT Engineer)
Mrs Ruchi Pankhania (Optometrist)
Mrs Maniben Pankhania (Housewife)
Ratan Paul Terparia (Vedic Cultural Society)
Mr Vibhor Agarwal (Assistant Software Engineer)
Mrs Seema Dosaj (Solicitor)
Mr Narender Dosaj
Mrs Kiran Sharma MBE (Justice of Peace; Retd Civil Servant)

Competing interests: No competing interests

10 January 2013
JS Bamrah
Consultant Psychiatrist
Dr Kailash Chand
Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust
North Manchester General Hospital, Delauneys Road, Manchester M8 5RB
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