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India rape sets off debate over women’s rights

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 31, 2012 at 7:22 a.m.

— India’s army and navy canceled New Year’s celebrations Monday out of respect for a New Delhi student whose gang-rape and murder has set off an impassioned debate about what the nation needs to do to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

Protesters and politicians have called for tougher rape laws, major police reforms and a transformation in the way the country treats its women.

‘’To change a society as conservative, traditional and patriarchal as ours, we will have a long haul,” said Ranjana Kumari, director of the Center for Social Research. ‘’It will take some time, but certainly there is a beginning.”

The country remained in mourning Monday, two days after the 23-year-old physiotherapy student died from her internal wounds in the Singapore hospital where she had been sent for emergency treatment. Six men have been arrested and charged with murder in the Dec. 16 attack on a New Delhi bus. They face the death penalty if convicted, police said.

The army and navy canceled their New Year’s celebrations, as did Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress party. Hotels and clubs across the capital also said they would forgo their usual parties.

‘’She has become the daughter of the entire nation,” said Sushma Swaraj, a leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

Hundreds of mourners continued their daily protests near Parliament demanding swift government action.

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