Gang-rape victim 'fighting for life'
An Indian gang-rape victim was "struggling against the odds" to survive on Friday after suffering a heart attack and brain injuries, as medics criticised a decision to fly her to Singapore.
- Published: 28/12/2012 at 01:46 PM
- Newspaper section: breakingnews
Doctors at Mount Elizabeth medical centre in Singapore say the Indian student who was gang-raped on a bus in New Delhi was "struggling against the odds" after suffering a significant brain injury. (AFP Photo)
In a bulletin issued the day after her arrival in Singapore, doctors at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital said the 23-year-old was battling an infection in her lungs and remained critically ill after the Dec16 assault in Delhi.
"The patient is currently struggling against the odds, and fighting for her life," Kelvin Loh, CEO of Mount Elizabeth Hospital where she was airlifted to from India, said in a statement.
"Our medical team's investigations upon her arrival at the hospital yesterday showed that in addition to her prior cardiac arrest, she also had infection of her lungs and abdomen, as well as significant brain injury.
"A multi-disciplinary team of specialists has been working tirelessly to treat her since her arrival, and is doing everything possible to stabilise her condition over the next few days."
On Thursday night, the hospital revealed that the woman, who is a student in Delhi, had undergone "three abdominal surgeries and experienced a cardiac arrest in India" as it gave the first detailed rundown of her condition.
The woman had been treated in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital since she was thrown off a bus in the capital after six men took turns to rape her at the back of the vehicle.
She also suffered severe intestinal injuries as a result of being assaulted with an iron bar, according to police and prosecutors.
The decision to fly her in a special air ambulance was taken at a meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's cabinet on Wednesday, the government having promised to pay all her medical bills.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the government's only concern was to ensure the victim received "the best treatment possible".
"The doctors of Safdarjung Hospital and those from Trauma centre, they were called and consulted," he told reporters.
However, newspapers have suggested that authorities who have struggled to contain nationwide protests over the attack were keen to have her transferred out of the country.
An unnamed doctor who was part of a team of experts consulted about the transfer told The Hindu newspaper that they had only been asked whether it was safe to move her rather than if it was the best course of action.
"The question was not whether there were any deficiencies in treatment that would be met by moving her. ... She was being given the best possible care."
Samiran Nundy, chairman of the organ transplant and gastro-surgery department of Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told the paper the transfer made little sense.
"I just can't understand why a critically ill patient with infection in blood and body, high-grade fever and on a ventilator is being transferred," he said.
"It will take weeks in this case to even look into the possibility of an intestinal transplant so why hurry and take the patient out from a facility which works so well. It seems more of a political move."
Singh has ordered an official inquiry into the gang-rape and promised new laws to protect women as well as stiffer penalties for the worst sex crimes.
The government has announced plans to post the photos, names and addresses of convicted rapists on official websites to publicly shame them. The campaign will begin in Delhi, which has been dubbed India's "rape capital".
Shinde also said that Delhi police would soon launch a drive to recruit more female officers as a confidence-building measure.
"Every police station should have women police personnel," the minister said.
"I have suggested that each of the 166 police stations in Delhi should have at least one woman officer. We don't have enough to meet that target yet, but I told them that as many as possible should be deployed until we recruit more women."
The Delhi gang-rape has shone the spotlight on a crime that occurs on a daily basis in India, with most such assaults taking place in rural areas.
Police said on Friday that a 15-year-old schoolgirl had had her throat slit after being gang-raped in the Pali Muqimpure area of Uttar Pradesh state.
A hunt has been launched for three youths after the attack on Thursday, said a report by the Press Trust of India news agency.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
- Position: News agency