Body of India rape victim cremated in New Delhi

Updated 31 December 2012
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Body of India rape victim cremated in New Delhi

 

NEW DELHI: The body of a woman, whose gang rape provoked protests and rare national debate about violence against women in India, arrived back in New Delhi on Sunday and was cremated at a private ceremony.
Scuffles broke out in central Delhi between police and protesters who say the government is doing too little to protect women. But the 2,000-strong rally was confined to a single area, unlike last week when protests raged up throughout the capital.
Riot police manned barricades along streets leading to India Gate war memorial — a focal point for demonstrators — and, at another gathering point — the centuries-old Jantar Mantar — protesters held banners reading “We want justice!” and “Capital punishment.”
Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists, who say that successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women.
The unidentified 23-year-old victim of the Dec. 16 gang rape died of her injuries on Saturday, prompting promises of action from a government that has struggled to respond to public outrage.
The medical student had suffered brain injuries and massive internal injuries in the attack and died in hospital in Singapore where she had been taken for treatment.
She and a male friend had been returning home from the cinema, media reports say, when six men on a bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. The friend survived.
New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, police figures show. Reported rape cases rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011, according to government data.
Six suspects were charged with murder after her death and face the death penalty if convicted.
In Kolkata, one of India’s four biggest cities, police said a man reported that his mother had been gang-raped and killed by a group of six men in a small town near the city on Saturday.
She was killed on her way home with her husband, a senior official said, and the attackers had thrown acid at the husband, raped and killed her, and dumped her body in a roadside pond.
Police declined to give any further details. One officer told Reuters no criminal investigation had yet been launched.
“MISOGYNY“
The leader of India’s ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, was seen arriving at the airport when the plane carrying the woman’s body from Singapore landed and Prime Minister Mannmohan Singh’s convoy was also there.
A Reuters correspondent saw family members who had been with her in Singapore take her body from the airport to their Delhi home in an ambulance with a police escort.
Her body was then taken to a crematorium and cremated. Media were kept away but a Reuters witness saw the woman’s family, New Delhi’s chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, and the junior home minister, R P N Singh, coming out of the crematorium.
The outcry over the attack caught the government off guard. It took a week for the prime minister to make a statement, infuriating many protesters. Last weekend they fought pitched battles with police.
Issues such as rape, dowry-related deaths and female infanticide rarely enter mainstream political discourse.
Analysts say the death of the woman dubbed “Amanat,” an Urdu word meaning “treasure,” by some Indian media could change that, though it is too early to say whether the protesters can sustain their momentum through to national elections due in 2014.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon added his voice to those demanding change, calling for “further steps and reforms to deter such crimes and bring perpetrators to justice.”
Commentators and sociologists say the incident earlier this month has tapped into a deep well of frustration many Indians feel over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social issues.
Newspapers raised doubts about the commitment of both male politicians and the police to protecting women.
“Would the Indian political system and class have been so indifferent to the problem of sexual violence if half or even one-third of all legislators were women?” the Hindu newspaper asked.
The Indian Express said it was more complicated than realizing that the police force was understaffed and underpaid.
“It is geared toward dominating citizens rather than working for them, not to mention being open to influential interests,” the newspaper said. “It reflects the misogyny around us, rather than actively fighting for the rights of citizens who happen to be female.”


Arab refugees in sights of Berlin’s crime ‘clans’

Updated 18 December 2018
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Arab refugees in sights of Berlin’s crime ‘clans’

  • Berlin crime gangs of Arab origin have long earned infamy with violence and brazen robberies
  • Police warn they have targeted a new generation of refugees for recruitment

BERLIN: Berlin crime gangs of Arab origin have long earned infamy with violence and brazen robberies but now, police warn, they have targeted a new generation of refugees for recruitment.
Known in the media as Berlin’s “clans,” whose founders themselves fled war in Lebanon in the 1980s, they have long controlled much of the city’s illegal drugs trade, street prostitution and protection rackets.
While East European and Asian organized crime and homegrown biker gangs are also active, the clans have been especially visible, given many members’ love of gangster bling and muscle cars.
The dozen or so Arabic and Kurdish-origin extended families, with their patriarchal structures and codes of honor, have also been mythologized by rap artists and portrayed in the TV series “4 Blocks.”
Now police warn that the clans have sought out new members from among the over one million asylum-seekers who have arrived in Germany since mid-2015, half of them from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The clans “are trying to get others to do the dirty work” such as selling drugs or committing small burglaries, said Benjamin Jendro of the GDP police union.
Many refugees, he said, are “men who have arrived alone in Germany” and who “have not yet had to do with the justice system,” making it less likely they will go to prison if caught.
An undercover police investigator also told Die Welt newspaper that “above all, it is the young, physically strong men who are in the sights of the clans, who make them do the dirty work.”


The migrant wave that peaked three years ago sparked a xenophobic backlash in Germany, and stoked heated debate about integration efforts and crimes committed by foreigners.
This has thrown a new focus on the clans and raised questions about how Berlin’s police could let them openly flout the law for so long in a generally fairly low-crime country.
Germany’s best-known rapper, Bushido, long boasted about his close ties to one Berlin clan — until they had a falling out this year and he sought the protection of a rival group.
Bushido’s wife, Anna-Maria Ferchichi, told news weekly Stern that the couple now feared for their lives from gangsters who had formed “parallel societies right here in Germany.”
The clans’ latest show of force was the September 13 funeral of an infamous underworld figure, when 2,000 mourners congregated in the Islamic section of a Berlin cemetery, watched over by some 150 police.
In scenes Stern described as “worthy of a mafia movie,” they paid their last respects to Nidal Rabih, a 36-year-old violent repeat offender who had been shot dead in front of his family days earlier.
Rabih, a Palestinian born in Lebanon, had achieved cult status in the Berlin criminal underworld.
Boasting more than 100 offenses from robbery to attempted manslaughter, he had spent more than a decade behind bars but avoided a 2004 deportation attempt when Lebanon refused to issue him a passport.
Days after his death, Berlin municipal workers guarded by police whitewashed over a wall mural at the murder scene that depicted Rabih in the style of a martyred Islamic fighter.


Sociologists say the story of Berlin’s clans is a cautionary tale about failed integration.
Their patriarchs mostly arrived in the 1980s as refugees from then war-torn Lebanon, among them Palestinians and members of Turkey’s Arabic and Kurdish minorities.
Many had only temporary protection status and “did not have access here to education or work,” said Islamologist Mathias Rohe, arguing that this sped up the descent into delinquency.
The extended families, aside from now running large chunks of Berlin’s illegal economy, have also committed some of the city’s most headline-grabbing criminal stunts.
In 2010, masked men wielding machetes and guns robbed a poker tournament in the Berlin Grand Hyatt, making off with about 240,000 euros ($270,000).
In 2014, robbers rampaged through Berlin’s KaDeWe luxury department store, smashed glass displays and stole watches and jewelry worth 800,000 euros.
And last year, clan-linked bandits stole a 100-kilogramme (220-pound) Canadian commemorative gold coin worth over 3.75 million euros from Berlin’s Bode museum, around the corner from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s apartment.


Berlin’s police is now under fire for having long neglected the problem — something researcher Ralph Ghadban blames partially on a “fear of stigmatising and discriminating against certain minorities.”
In recent months, authorities have started to hit back by stepping up raids of shisha bars and betting shops, many in Berlin’s Neukoelln district, and confiscating expensive cars for speeding.
In August, police and prosecutors seized 77 properties worth 10 million euros, alleged to have mostly been bought with proceeds from a major 2014 bank robbery.
Some of the properties were officially owned by one convicted bank robber’s 19-year-old brother whose only declared income was state welfare.
The confiscations still have to stand up in court against challenges from the clan’s expensive lawyers, but authorities believe they have struck a first blow.
“We’re stepping on their toes,” said Berlin interior minister Andreas Geisel. “We’re spoiling their fun in Berlin.”