US to confer Intl Women of Courage Award on Delhi victim

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Washington, Mar 5: The US State Department has decided to posthumously confer the Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award on the Delhi gangrape victim who is referred to as "Nirbhaya" as her real name cannot be disclosed under Indian law.

The paramedical student, who has become a source of inspiration to people across the world, will be honoured alongwith nine other extraordinary women at the Department of State's Dean Acheson Auditorium on Mar 8. First Lady Michelle Obama will attend the ceremony as a special guest.

The State Department presents the aforementioned award every year to "women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women's rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk."

The citation for the award mentions how "Nirbhaya" fought for justice even while she was battling for life in hospital.

The 23-year-old was severely injured in the brutal attack on Dec 16, 2012. Despite doctors at the Safdarjung hospital in New Delhi and later surgeons at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore trying their best to stablise her condition, she breathed her last on Dec 29.

US State Dept to honour Delhi victim

The State Department praised her courage in the citation which reads:

"Known to India and the world as "Nirbhaya" (Fearless), the courageous 23-year-old physiotherapy intern whose brutal gang rape on a moving bus in Delhi in December inspired widespread protests, has become the foundation of a popular movement to end violence against women in India. 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. "Nirbhaya" bravely recorded two police statements while in the hospital, repeatedly called for justice against the six attackers, and stated her will to survive to see justice done. 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. She had just graduated from a physiotherapy program when her life was cut short. In the wake of her death just two weeks after the attack, India's active civil society began advocating heavily for legislation and social programs 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 family of the Delhi gang rape victim on Tuesday said it was happy that the girl's courage has been acknowledged by the United States which has selected her for a bravery award.

Family of "Nirbhaya" welcome the award

She is truly deserving of the award and we are happy that her courage and bravery has been acknowledged," the victim's brother told PTI on 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.

Besides "Nirbhaya", the following women will receive the International Women of Courage Award for 2013:

  • Malalai Bahaduri, First Sergeant, Afghan National Interdiction Unit (Afghanistan)
  • Samira Ibrahim, Coordinator, Know Your Rights (Egypt)
  • Julieta Castellanos, Rector, National Autonomous University of Honduras (Honduras)
  • Dr. Josephine Obiajulu Odumakin, President, Campaign for Democracy (Nigeria)
  • Elena Milashina, journalist, human rights activist (Russia)
  • Fartuun Adan, Executive Director, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre (Somalia)
  • Tsering Woeser (Wei Se), Tibetan author, poet, blogger (China)
  • Razan Zeitunah, human rights lawyer and Founder, Local Coordination Committees (Syria)
  • Ta Phong Tan, blogger (Vietnam)

Woeser, Zeitunah and Tan will be awarded in absentia.

OneIndia News (with PTI inputs)

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