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Companion of India rape victim: I begged attackers to stop

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(CNN) — New details emerged Friday of the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi from a male friend, who detailed the incident as horrific and their subsequent treatment as callous.

The 28-year-old man, who asked not to be identified, said he and the young woman had watched a movie December 16, and then boarded a private bus to return to her home in a New Delhi suburb.

The driver made lewd remarks and five other men taunted the couple and locked the doors, he said in a telephone interview with Agence France-Presse from a town in Uttar Pradesh state.

“They hit me with a small stick and dragged my friend to a seat near the driver’s cabin,” the man said. Then the “driver and the other men raped my friend and hit her in the worst possible ways in the most private parts of her body.”

The driver used an iron bar in the attack, he told the news agency. The friend said he suffered a broken leg.

“The cruelty I saw should not be seen ever. I tried to fight against the men but later I begged them again and again to leave her,” he said.

In an interview with Reuters, the man said their abductors drove the couple throughout the city for about two hours before dropping them below an overpass; he was unable to stand and had no clothes.

“Three-wheeler taxis would slow down, take a look at us and move on,” he said. “So would cars and motorcycles. We got no help for nearly 20 or 25 minutes.”

When three police vehicles finally did show up, he said, “they couldn’t decide among themselves which police precinct has jurisdiction.”

Throughout, his friend was bleeding profusely, he said.

“We need change in every area,” the companion said.

The attack, which resulted in the woman’s death on December 29, has prompted widespread debate over the way the country handles sexual assaults and the treatment of women in India. Numerous protests have taken place and laws have been proposed.

India’s interior minister has ordered New Delhi police stations to increase the number of women officers to facilitate the handling of complaints from women.

Interior Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said Friday that each police station in Delhi should have 10 women constables and two women subinspectors.

“We will be posting these women very soon, according to this order, by diverting staff from other places and making them available in Delhi,” police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said. At present, women comprise 7% of police forces, he said.

Candidates will be recruited within four months, and training will take an additional nine months, he said.

Bhagat denied that the directive was issued solely because of the rape, but said it is aimed at helping women.

“We need overall more women in the police station as other women feel more comfortable with female officers,” he said. “If all women complaints are attended to promptly, situations like that of the gang-raped medical student may have been avoided.”

The interior minister said he is working with security officials to strengthen laws regarding rape and assault.

In the state of Haryana, about 80 miles northwest of Delhi, officials plan to publicize the profiles of rapists.

The state will publish the names, addresses and case numbers of convicted rapists on a website.

“In doing so, we hope to curb crime against women,” said Laik Ram Dabbas, director of the state crime records bureau.

The website could be active this month, Dabbas said.

“By making these names and profiles public, we think crime can be curbed, as in India people are sensitive to public embarrassment,” Dabbas said. “Once the public is aware of such people roaming around their area, they will become more careful.”

The men accused in the gang rape that led to the death of the 23-year-old Indian woman were charged Thursday in a New Delhi court with murder, rape and kidnapping.

Police submitted charges against five suspects before a fast-track court in Saket, a southern district of New Delhi, said Suman Nalwa, deputy police commissioner of a unit for women and children.

He said authorities were waiting for the outcome of a bone marrow test before deciding whether a sixth suspect in the attack will be charged as a juvenile or an adult.

The results of the test, intended to determine the suspect’s age, should come soon, Nalwa said. The trial will begin this week once all the evidence is gathered, he said.

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