In the past five years, political parties across India nominated 260 candidates awaiting trial on charges of crimes against women. Parties ran six candidates for the national parliamentary elections facing such charges.
“We need to decriminalise politics and surely a serious effort has to be made to stop people who have serious charges of sexual assault against them from contesting elections,” said Zoya Hasan, a political analyst.
Several thousand women joined a silent march to Gandhi’s memorial in the capital in memory of the victim, holding placards demanding “Respect” and “Justice.” Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit joined the women for a prayer session for the victim.
The government has set up a task force to monitor women’s safety in New Delhi and to review whether police were properly protecting women. It had set up two earlier bodies to look into the handling of the rape case and to suggest changes in the nation’s rape laws.
The rape of the 23-year-old university student on a bus has horrified many in the country and brought unprecedented attention to the daily suffering of women, who face everything from catcalls and groping to rapes.
Six men arrested in the case will be formally charged on Thursday with kidnapping, rape and murder. Police are to push for the death penalty in the case.