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Is India the most dangerous place on Earth for women?

  • Video report by ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward

I want to be in India talking about it’s development as the world’s fastest growing economy.

I’d like to be writing about the fact it is the world’s largest democracy and in the next few months it will host an election in which almost one billion people will vote.

But instead we are here to report on India as the one of the world’s most dangerous places for women.

In the last week alone three horrific child rapes have hit the headlines here in Delhi, and according to the latest crime statistics there will have been dozens more in that same period, some reported to police, many not.

Thursday we met the family of one of the latest victims and we spoke to the parents of Jyoti Singh whose brutal rape six years ago on a Delhi bus shocked the world.

Jyoti’s mother Asha had hoped what happened to her would change society in India and lead to less rapes and murders.

They spoke to us outside court after another deferred hearing.

They had been told a date would be set for the men convicted of Jyoti’s murder to be hanged but again there was a delay.

“If we cannot get swift justice in a case which caused international outrage, how can we expect things to change?” Her mother asked.

In west Delhi the parents of 7-year-old Anam are only just beginning their fight for justice.

She was abducted from their local market last weekend by a man out on bail for the rape of another child two years ago.

There has been another delay in setting the date to hang the men convicted of Jyoti’s murder. Credit: ITV News

Anam’s father Arman broke down as he described how he found her body in local wasteland on Sunday morning.

She had been beaten, bound and raped.

His wife Parveen is 8 months pregnant with their third child and he is praying it’s not another girl.

He told me they are now living in fear, and no woman is safe in the city anymore, not a child of 7 years old or grandmother of 70 years old.

The answer from the government has been tougher sentences, making the death sentence mandatory in cases on child rape.

The police claim the rise in incidents is partly due to the increased reporting of crimes against women and say their number one priority is detection.

I had hoped to be told it was prevention and conviction.

Protesters have taken to the streets, calling for justice, following the rape and murder of 7-year-old Anam. Credit: ITV News

However in the last year the police have started several school initiatives where young boys and girls are being taught about ‘good touching and bad touching’.

They’ve also installed special letter boxes where children can post anonymous letters to report any occasions when they have been touched or approached inappropriately by an adult.

This is progress and one of the first signs that the authorities are looking at the societal roots of the problem.

But in the same breath that a senior Delhi police officer told me about these positive programmes, he claimed that in actual fact the marginal increase in sexual violence was in line with the rise in population.

Many Indians are angry with their justice system and the way it treats women. Credit: ITV News

I find it alarming that the appalling cases we are seeing almost daily in Delhi should be explained as inevitable in a city of this size and population.

The parents of Jyoti Singh hoped that if something good could come from the appalling assault of their daughter it would be a shift in attitudes, that no other family would suffer like they have.

But here we are more than six years on from that sickening crime and almost every day another family is having to go through the same dreadful ordeal.