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Family of India gang-rape victim call for courage

NEW DELHI--The fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi shattered India's silence over sexual violence and emboldened some victims to speak out, family members and campaigners said Monday on the anniversary of the attack.

As women gathered across the capital to mark the event, the victim's father said the assault on his daughter on a moving bus on Dec. 16 last year “shook not just us but the entire country and the world.”

“We will only say that this date should be celebrated ... so that people keep getting inspired and keep joining this movement, coming together to ensure the safety of women,” the father told India's NDTV network.

Her mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said her daughter's bravery before her death should continue to motivate Indian women to “fight against such crimes and to raise their voices against such crimes.”

The physiotherapy student, 23, suffered a savage sexual assault at the hands of six men, including with an iron rod, after she boarded a private bus while going home from the cinema with a male friend.

She died from her injuries 13 days later.

The brutality of the attack, and her determination to survive so she could report her attackers to police, sparked large-scale and sometimes violent protests as well as soul-searching about India's treatment of women.

The case led to reform of rape and sexual assault laws and shone an international spotlight on what women's groups called a “rape epidemic” in the country.

Four of her attackers were convicted and given the death penalty in September after the case was fast-tracked, while a juvenile was sentenced to a detention center.

Several hundred students, professionals, activists and others gathered at different places across Delhi for candlelit vigils to remember the victim and press for more reforms and changes in social attitudes to women.

“The government has made some laws, we welcome them. But unless mindsets change, the laws can't be of much help,” college student Ishaan Ahmad, 21, told AFP.

Ahmad was among those at a makeshift memorial, decorated with flowers, lamps and candles, built in the city center shortly after the attack.

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