The 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim will be posthumously honoured by the US with the prestigious International Women of Courage Award for inspiring people to fight against gender-based violence.
The award will be presented posthumously by US First Lady Michelle Obama and the Secretary of State John Kerry on March 8, which is celebrated as International Women’s Day, an official announcement said.
“For millions of Indian women, her personal ordeal, perseverance to fight for justice, and her family’s continued bravery is helping to lift the stigma and vulnerability that drive violence against women,” the State Department on Tuesday said about her as it announced the awards to be given to 10 women from across the world.
The girl, a paramedical student, was gang-raped by six men in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16 last year which triggered nationwide protests.
She was shifted to a Singapore hospital for treatment where she died on December 29.
She bravely recorded two police statements while in the hospital, repeatedly called for justice against the attackers, and stated her will to survive to see justice done, the State Department said.
“Like many Indians inspired by her struggle, she was born into a working class family that invested their hopes and life savings into her dream to pursue medicine,” it said.
“In the wake of her death just two weeks after the attack, India’s civil society began advocating heavily for legislation and social programmes to stem gender-based violence in all its forms and to ensure higher rape conviction rates and gender-sensitive law enforcement and justice systems.
“Thanks to these efforts, the Indian government has begun to take action to follow through on those demands,” the State Department said.
The Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award annually recognises women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk.
Some members of the family of the victim on Tuesday said it was happy that the girl’s courage had been acknowledged by the United States. “She truly deserves the award and we are happy that her courage and bravery has been acknowledged,” the victim’s brother said on the phone from Delhi.
The brother said they had received a phone call from the US embassy two days ago after which three officials came to their residence in Delhi and took all the details about his sister.
To a question, the brother said the family had not yet decided who will go to receive the award and a formal invitation is also awaited.