A group of furious villagers today blocked a major intersection in Gurgaon near Delhi as they protested against the rape on Sunday of a five-year-old, who is in the ICU.
The child, bleeding and in pain, was moved from hospital to hospital before finally being referred to a government hospital 25 km away in Delhi. There she had a five-hour surgery.
Men and women from her village today refused to move from the road until senior police officers arrived to assure them that the child would be shifted to a private super-specialty hospital closer home and given an uninterrupted traffic corridor.
The man arrested for assaulting the girl is a father of four children, including two daughters. The 32-year-old allegedly kidnapped the child after promising her treats, and then took her to a deserted spot behind a mall and raped her.
As her family desperately looked for help, one private hospital said it did not have clinicians to attend to serious injuries. Another referred the child to a hospital in Delhi, even though there are at least seven multispecialty hospitals in the area where the child could have been taken within moments.
While the child was waiting for treatment, a one-stop rape crisis centre that should have helped her was also not functioning.
The centre was set up in the aftermath of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape, which led to major changes in laws on crime against women. "There have been 18 rapes of minors in the past few months. But the crisis centre has been working only on paper," says Kulbhushan Bharadwaj of the Farishtey Group, an NGO that works with child rape survivors.