India gang rape: Why was everyone so slow to help?
India has no ‘Good Samaritan Law’ to give legal protection to people who step in, and Indians tend to avoid getting tangled with police.
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Observers point out that helping an injured person in India isn’t as easy as just calling an ambulance.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Silent no longer: India's women fight back
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It took almost two-and-half hours for the young woman who was studying to be a physical therapist to receive medical treatment. Instead of taking her to the private hospital nearby the police had to drive nearly 25 minutes to a government facility.
Tewari says a Supreme Court ruling that requires private and government hospitals to admit all emergency patients needs to be better implemented and will cut down on the delays in getting help for those who need medical aid.
With only about 60 ambulances for the 15 million people living in New Delhi and surrounding areas it can take hours for help to arrive.
Mr. Tewari hopes to change that by training 8,000 volunteers to be first responders in the capital.
“These carefully selected and trained citizens will work with police to patrol their localities,” says Tewari, who says he was inspired to start the NGO after his young cousin bled to death on the roadside as people walked past. He believes more people on the ground and the passing of some version of the “Good Samaritan Bill,” which offers legal protection to people who give assistance to those who are injured, will go a long way in getting more people involved.
Analysts say it will take more than a handful of new laws to encourage Indians to change longstanding mindsets.
“In cases of sexual violence like this one, where the girl and boy were both naked on the road; the question of morality comes up,” says Ashis Nandy, a well-known political commentator. “People would be even less likely to get involved because they feel that in some way the girl and her friend brought this on themselves.”
Today, a popular self-proclaimed Hindu spiritual guru Asaram Bapu told reporters the victim is as guilty as her rapists. He said she should have called the culprits brothers and begged them to stop. "This could have saved her dignity and life."
Still, some point to the recent protests as evidence that this type of thinking is changing in India.
“For the first time the issue of women’s access to public spaces has become a mainstream concern of common people on the street,” says Kavitha Khrisnan, the secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association. “People are now talking the language of the people’s movement and may be more inclined to help if they see someone suffering, especially a woman, on the street.”
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