Acid attacks on young Indian women 'are down to men who feel threatened by their independence'

By Staff 0

  • Military nurse Preeta Rathi, 24, died a month after being targeted
  • Family believe she may have been victimised after gaining converted job
  • Sociologist says attackers are trying to intimidate those who pursue careers

By Helen Lawson

PUBLISHED: 11:47 EST, 9 June 2013 | UPDATED: 13:12 EST, 9 June 2013

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Preeti Rathi died last Saturday following an acid attack at a Mumbai train station

Preeti Rathi died last Saturday following an acid attack at a Mumbai train station

An Indian woman who was the victim of an acid attack as she stood at a Mumbai train station has died from her injuries.

Preeti Rathi was targeted as she stood alongside her father Amar Singh Rathi at the station on May 2.

She had travelled to the city to take up a coveted position as a military nurse, beating thousands of other candidates.

The attack left the 24-year-old blinded and disfigured and she was unable to speak before dying last weekend.

Ms Rathi was attacked by a man who was wearing a cap and scarf and her family told a newspaper they believed the attacker could have been hired to follow her.

'We feel it has something to do with jealousy about her job. It could be someone from within her friends’ circle or our neighbourhood,' her father, 57, told the newspaper.

Now her family is demanding that India's Criminal Investigation Bureau hold an inquiry into her death.

In an online petition, her father described his daughter's state following the attack.

He wrote: 'She suffered severe injuries on her face and internal organs.

'Her eyes were damaged, her liver and kidneys got infected and she endured crucifying pain for almost a month.

'She put up a brave fight but eventually gave in to her injuries and infection. She left us after suffering a cardiac arrest.'

The family told the newspaper they had lost faith in the police, who claim a man they arrested over the attack had had a marriage proposal turned down by Ms Rathi.

The attack on Ms Rathi comes as acid attacks on Indian women increase with the crime used by men to intimidate and put them 'back in their place', according to campaigners.

Campaigners told a newspaper that they are seeing two cases a week on average.

Ms Rathi's family have demanded that India's Central Bureau of Investigation holds an inquiry into her death

Ms Rathi's family have demanded that India's Central Bureau of Investigation holds an inquiry into her death

Mumbai officers arrested a man on suspicion of the acid attack - but Ms Rathi's family told a newspaper they had lost faith in the police

Mumbai officers arrested a man on suspicion of the acid attack - but Ms Rathi's family told a newspaper they had lost faith in the police

'The independence and autonomy of young women is seen as a threat,' Ranjana Kumari, a sociologist, told the Sunday Times.

'That's the kind of challenge that women are facing in India. A whole generation of young women are not willing to go by the traditional norms.'

Ms Kumari said there was a pattern of assaults on educated young women.

Activist Pragya Singh, who was the victim of an acid attack by a former boyfriend in 2006, said the easy availability of concentrated acid in markets was contributing to the rise in reports of the crime.

Those convicted of acid attacks face a ten-year jail term under a law introduced in March following the death of a physiotherapy student who was gang-raped and murdered on a bus in Delhi in December.

Sociology professor Satish Deshpande told the Sunday Times that Indian men were finding it difficult to cope with emancipated women who were pursuing professional life outside the home.

'For men whose patriarchy is seen to be threatened and insecure, this new breed of women may be an unbearable provocation,' he said.

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