Dec 31 - Protesters and opposition leaders continue to press the government for harsher penalties for sex crimes as the ruling party accuses the opposition of playing political games. Lindsey Parietti reports.
Huddled in blankets against the cold, protesters in India's capital want to keep their cause at the forefront. Some are on hunger strike as they mourn the death of a young woman brutally raped and push for the death penalty for her attackers. (SOUNDBITE) (Hindi) RAJESH GUNGWAR, ANTI-RAPE PROTESTER, WHO IS ON HUNGER STRIKE FROM ABOUT 8 DAYS, SAYING: "It is important to raise our voices against the issue of rape that has come up. This is a historic movement against atrocities on women. This is one kind of campaign and it is important that it achieves success. The government must amend the laws and all the rapists should be hanged to death." The main opposition party also held a condolence ceremony for the 23-year-old, who was gang raped on a public bus on December 16 and died of her injuries Saturday. One Bharatiya Janata Party leader says the victim woke the soul of the country but that rulers are deaf to the protests of thousands. But the ruling Congress party spokesman says the opposition's call for a special session of parliament is merely a political game. Sexual assaults, dowry-related deaths and other crimes against women are rarely discussed publicly, but protesters' demands for harsher penalties are bringing these issues into mainstream politics for the first time.