By Claire Hadley
Five men suspected of committing the gang rape of a 23-year-old student in India were charged with rape and murder this week, according to the New York Times.
The female physiotherapy student, whose name has not been released due to restraints from Indian law, died two weeks after the rape from injuries sustained during it, according to the New York Times.
Other court charges include destruction of evidence and the attempted murder of the woman's boyfriend, who was with her at the time. The combinations of these charges could equal the rare death penalty.
The men will be tried in the new fast-track court, which has been recently created to handle cases involving crimes against women, officials told the New York Times.
The girl's father maintains that if the men be found guilty, they must be executed.
"The whole country is demanding that these monsters be hanged. I am with them," he told reporters at his home in Uttar Pradesh state, according to the BBC.
The bar association at the court, with reflection of the deep feelings connected to the case, said none of its members was willing to represent the accused, according to Reuters. Thus the court is expected to assign a defense lawyer for the men.
Protests have been taking place every day since the attack, in locations all over India. Protesters are expressing anger over attitudes toward women in India and calling for changes to the laws on violence against women, according to BBC.
Delhi's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit even joined thousands of women on a protest march through Delhi to Rajghat to call for stringent anti-rape laws.
Delhi officials have responded to the protests by announcing a series of measures intended to make the city safer. These include more police night patrols, checks on bus drivers and their assistants, and the banning of buses with tinted windows or curtains, according to the BBC. Also, a telephone helpline has been launched for women in distress, connected with police stations across the city.
Several surveys suggest that India has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world. Reported rapes increased 25 percent between 2006 and 2011, according to the New York Times. A rape is reported on average every twenty minutes in India, according to Reuters.
A committee has been set up under a retired Supreme Court judge to review changes to the the current anti-rape law, reports BBC.
"We want the laws to be amended in such a stringent way that before a person even thinks of touching a girl, he should feel chills down his spine," said lawyer Suman Lata Katiyal, protesting at the south Delhi courthouse, reports Reuters.