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Toronto women plan march to press Indian consulate for action against rape

Students hold candles in Ahmedabad, India, as they pray during a candlelight vigil for a gang-rape victim who was assaulted in New Delhi. Two women in Toronto are planning a march on the Indian consulate on Thursday to press for meaningful reform.

AMIT DAVE/REUTERS

Stating that they want India to know the world is watching, two women have arranged a march on the country's Toronto consulate for Thursday, a protest that will culminate with the delivery of a letter demanding meaningful reform after the savage gang rape and death of a New Delhi woman.

The protest will convene at noon, at the intersection of Bay and Bloor streets. From there, placard-waving protesters will march a few blocks to the Indian consulate, where they will deliver the letter. The protest has been organized by Kalpana Pareek, who is a Royal Bank employee, and Parveen Gill, a professor at the business school at Humber College. Both women were raised in India before moving to Canada.

In an interview Wednesday, Ms. Pareek said she and Ms. Gill wanted to let those already protesting the New Delhi woman's death know that they are not alone. Ms. Pareek, 44, said she is also hoping to send a message to the Indian Prime Minister and President, to let them know that their action – or inaction – will be carefully scrutinized.

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"Put yourself in the shoes of the victims and their families and then frame the strictest possible laws/policies," the letter urges. "Make sure they are implemented with iron fist with no recourse for breaking the same or any lapses in implementation."

The New Delhi woman, whose name has not been released, was gang-raped by six men on a bus on Dec. 16 after she attended a movie with a friend. The 23-year-old woman had recently completed a physiotherapy degree after her parents sold their small plot of land to send her to school. She died in hospital on Dec. 29.

Hers was the 637th registered rape case in New Delhi in 2012, and it prompted debate about patriarchal attitudes and the safety of women in the rapidly shifting nation.

Ms. Pareek said it is unclear how many people will participate in the protest. However, she said more than 100 people had signed the letter by Wednesday.

"Is anyone listening? When will it stop? Who should we look upon?" the letter asks.

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