A Indian woman who was the victim of a gang rape and brutal beating earlier this month in New Delhi has been flown to Singapore for further treatment, while the Indian prime minister is pledging to focus on the issue of women's safety.
Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital said the 23-year-old victim arrived at the facility early Thursday in “extremely critical condition.”
Earlier in the day, B.D. Athani, medical superintendent at the Indian hospital where she had been treated, said the woman has already undergone three operations and remains in critical condition.
“Based on the advice of a team of doctors, the government of India has made arrangements that the patient be shifted in a well-equipped air ambulance to a renowned hospital identified by the doctors, involving minimum journey so that she can be provided with state-of-art medical treatment that may perhaps stretch to many weeks.”
He said the hospital in Singapore has an advanced multi-organ transplant facility, and that arrangements have been made for the woman's family to accompany her there.
Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in a statement that “despite the best efforts of our doctors, the victim continues to be critical and her fluctuating health remains a big cause of concern for all of us.”
The woman was traveling on a charter bus on December 16 when a group of men on board raped and beat her with an iron rod and then threw her from the bus.
Police have arrested six alleged attackers, who are accused of rape and attempted murder.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told a development conference Thursday that attacks against women happen “in all states and regions” and require greater attention from national and local officials.
“The safety and security of women is of the highest concern to our government. A commission of inquiry is being set up to look into precisely these issues in the capital.”
He said India cannot have meaningful development without the active participation of women, and that their security must be assured.
The government on Wednesday announced a commission that will review police response to the attack, while another panel is tasked with suggesting ways to make the capital safer for women as well as changes to the law to create stiffer penalties for such crimes.
The gang rape has sparked days of widespread protests in New Delhi urging the government to address crimes against women. On Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators tried to march to government buildings in the capital but were stopped by riot police armed with tear gas and water cannons.
Meanwhile, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee's son, Abhijit, was sharply criticized Thursday for saying the protesters were not students but “dented and painted” women who wear heavy makeup and think it is fashionable to protest. He said the demonstrations “must be part of some hidden agenda of some political party.”
Mukherjee later apologized after activists, political leaders and his sister came out against his remarks.