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Indian rape victim dies in hospital

A woman, with a hand covered in fake blood, joined a rape protest on Friday in Calcutta.

PIYAL ADHIKARY /EPA

A woman, with a hand covered in fake blood, joined a rape protest on Friday in Calcutta.

SINGAPORE — A young Indian woman who was gang-raped and severely beaten on a bus in New Delhi died early Saturday at a hospital in Singapore, the hospital said.

The 23-year-old victim ‘‘died peacefully,’’ according to a statement by Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital where she was being treated.

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The woman’s horrific ordeal galvanized Indians, who have held almost daily demonstrations to demand greater protection from sexual violence, from groping to rape, which affects thousands of women every day but which often goes unreported.

She and a male friend were traveling on a public bus on the evening of Dec. 16 when they were attacked by six men who raped her and beat them both. They also stripped both naked and threw them off the bus on a road.

The attack two weeks ago brought new focus on police and community attitudes toward women in India.

Demonstrators in New Delhi have demanded stronger protections for women and stronger punishment for rapists.

Indian authorities have been accused of belittling rape victims and refusing to file cases against their attackers, further deterring victims — already under societal pressure to keep the assaults quiet — from reporting the crimes.

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After 10 days at a New Delhi hospital, the victim was flown to Singapore on Thursday for treatment at the Mount Elizabeth hospital, which specializes in multiorgan transplants.

Media reports have said that her assailants beat her and inserted an iron rod into her body during the assault, resulting in severe organ damage.

But by late Friday, the young woman’s condition had ‘‘taken a turn for the worse’’ and her vital signs had deteriorated with indications of severe organ failure, said Dr. Kelvin Loh, the chief executive officer of Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth hospital.

‘‘This is despite doctors fighting for her life including putting her on maximum artificial ventilation support, optimal antibiotic doses, as well as stimulants which maximize her body’s capability to fight infections,’’ he said.

He added that family members were by her side.

She had earlier suffered a heart attack, a lung and abdominal infection, and ‘‘significant’’ brain injury, according to the hospital.

Police have arrested six people in connection with the attack. She was traveling in the virtually empty bus with a male friend when they were attacked.

Some politicians have come under fire for comments insulting the protesters and diminishing the crime.

On Friday, Abhijit Mukherjee, a national lawmaker and the son of India’s president, apologized for calling the protesters ‘‘highly dented and painted’’ women who go from discos to demonstrations.

‘‘I tender my unconditional apology to all the people whose sentiments got hurt,’’ he told NDTV news.

Separately, authorities in Punjab took action Thursday when an 18-year-old woman killed herself by drinking poison a month after she told police she was gang-raped.

State authorities suspended one police officer and fired two others on accusations they delayed investigating and taking action in the case.

The three accused in the rape were only arrested Thursday night, a month after the crime was reported.

‘‘This is a very sensitive crime, I have taken it very seriously,’’ said Paramjit Singh Gill, a top police officer in the city of Patiala.

The Press Trust of India reported that the woman was raped Nov. 13 and reported the attack to police Nov. 27.

But police harassed the girl, asked her embarrassing questions, and took no action against the accused, PTI reported, citing police sources.

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