'The Worst Has Happened' - Anger Mounts in India As 8-month-old Baby Raped in Delhi

Anger is mounting in India after an eight-month-old baby was raped, allegedly by her 28-year-old cousin, in the capital New Delhi.

The incident is thought to have occurred while the baby's parents were not at home and the mother's sister-in-law was supposedly babysitting the infant.

The man, who initially fled his home, was later arrested. He confessed to the crime, saying he was under the influence of alcohol.

The baby's parents realized the infant has been abused after the mother noticed blood on the girl's clothes, local media reported.

The victim was rushed to hospital, where doctors advised the parents to inform the police. The baby, whose internal organs were damaged during the violence, underwent surgery. She is believed to be in a critical condition.

"I had left for work leaving my children at home. My wife works too. So she too left for work soon after. When she came back, she saw the blood-soaked bed and clothes of the child. When she told this to her sister-in-law she made excuses. My child is in critical condition now," the father told Indian news agency ANI.

Infant
The victim was rushed to hospital, where doctors advised the parents to inform the police. The baby, whose internal organs were damaged during the violence, underwent surgery. She is believed to be in a critical condition. AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET

The case, brought to light on Monday (January 29) after local media reported on it, sparked outrage in the country, where sexual violence against women and girls is rife and, in some areas, goes largely unpunished.

Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal, who visited the girl in hospital, said on Twitter:

"What to do? How can Delhi sleep today when 8 month baby has been brutally raped in Capital? Have we become so insensitive or we have simply accepted this as our fate?"

She then said in another post: "The worst has happened. An 8 month old baby has been brutally raped in the Capital and is battling for her life in a Hospital. Going to the hospital to meet her. Am totally numb. Terrified to face her! Please please pray for her."

The gang-rape and murder of a woman in New Delhi in 2012 sent shock waves across the nation. Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old medicine student, was beaten, gang-raped and tortured in a private bus by six people, including the driver. The victim,who was returning home from the cinema with a male friend, was then thrown off the bus. She later died at the Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

The attack sparked widespread protests in India, with people calling for tougher laws punishing perpetrators.

Four men convicted of the crime were sentenced to the death penalty in 2014. The fifth died in jail amid speculations he had been killed. The sixth, who was 17 at the time of the crime, was sentenced to three years.

However, sexual violence continues to target thousands of people in the country every year.

In 2015, at least 34,651 cases of rape were reported across India, according to data released by the country's National Crime Records Bureau. The number was in decline compared to 2014, when 36,735 cases were reported.

During that year, a spate of rapes in Uttar Pradesh state—including some that saw the victims, mainly from the Dalit group (low-ranking citizens in India's rigid caste system), being hung from trees after being abused—caused a huge backlash, with dozens of people urging the Indian government to tighten its laws on rape and prosecute perpetrators.

Last November, Human Rights Watch released a report on the challenges rape survivors face in India. The organization said that, in spite of Indian laws punishing police officers who fail to register a complaint of sexual assault, some officers still failed to file a First Information Report (FIR), particularly when victims hail from socially marginalized communities, like those from the Dalit group.