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US Women of Courage award for Delhi gang rape victim

March 05, 2013 08:08 IST

United States has selected 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim for the International Women of Courage Award.

The award to would be presented posthumously by First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, on March 8, an official announcement said on Monday.

"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 said about her as it announced the awards to be given to 10 women from across the world.

She 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, 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. She had just graduated from a physiotherapy programme when her life was cut short," said the State Department.

"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 paramedical student was gangraped, beaten and thrown out of a moving bus along with a male friend in Delhi last December, which generated widespread protests and was condemned by various women groups, both in India and abroad.

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 for women's rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk.

Since inception of the award in 2007, the Department of State has honoured 67 women from 45 different countries.

The other awardees for this year are 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) and Fartuun Adan, Executive Director, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre (Somalia).

Three of the awardees -- Tsering Woeser (Wei Se), Tibetan author, poet, blogger (China), Razan Zeitunah, human rights lawyer and Founder, Local Coordination Committees (Syria) and Ta Phong Tan, blogger (Vietnam) would be given the award in absentia.

After the award ceremony, the honourees will travel separately to cities across the United States to engage with the American people through an International Visitor Leadership Programme.

They will visit Indianapolis, Jackson Hole, Portland, San Francisco, and Tampa.

The women will reconvene in San Diego to reflect on their visit and discuss ways to work together to improve the lives of women and girls around the world, the State Department added.

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