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Fatal stabbing of teen girl in public sparks outrage in India

After a teen girl was fatally stabbed in public over the weekend in Delhi, outrage regarding violent crimes against women and concerns about their safety have risen in India.

Surveillance camera footage appears to show a man stabbing the girl over 20 times and smashing her head with a concrete block repeatedly on a busy street in northwest Delhi's Shahbad Dairy area while those passing by failed to intervene.

The victim, identified as Sakshi, was a 16-year-old who worked part-time as a tutor to help her family earn a living. She was in a relationship with her alleged killer, 20-year-old Sahil Khan, for the past year. The two had an argument on Sunday, local police said.

Later that night, when Sakshi was on way to attend a birthday party, police say Khan killed her.

Khan, an air conditioning repairman, was arrested from Delhi's neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh, Ravi Kumar Singh, Delhi's Deputy Police Commissioner, told the press on Monday. Indian media reports quoted interrogators who said Khan has reportedly told the police that he has no regrets about the killing because the girl was ignoring him and wanted to end the relationship.

The video of the murder has shocked people in the country where brazen and gruesome crimes against women are on rise. Experts believe the rising cases of crimes against women are rooted in societal patriarchy, lack of education and sensitivity.

People on social media described the murder as "spine chilling," "shocking," and "disturbing."

"It is deeply distressing incident, the video is so unbearable to watch… the criminals have become fearless and there is no fear of police," Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told the press on Tuesday, while announcing cash compensation of about $12,000 for the girl's family.

Meanwhile, some expressed anger over how those passing by remained mute spectators to the killing.

"If the boy and [the] girl were kissing then the public would have interfered! Since it was [a] killing, they didn't care assuming it's none of their business," wrote someone on Twitter.

Others say women in India are now vulnerable to violence.

"Delhi has become extremely unsafe for women," Swati Maliwal, Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women told reporters. "There is a complete lawlessness… people feel they can get away with crimes against women."

Last year, a similar case from the Indian capital made international headlines. According to police, Aftab Poonawala killed her girlfriend, Shraddha Walker, chopped her body into dozens of pieces and stored them in a refrigerator before disposing them of over weeks. 

"Our men can't take no for an answer," Yogita Bhayana, a prominent activist fighting against gender violence told CBS News. "They behave this way because they believe women are their property."

India recorded over 1,173 daily cases of crimes against women on an average in 2021, the latest year for which records are available. This was an increase of 15% over the previous year. These include cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, and kidnapping.

India tightened its rape laws after the brutal rape and murder of a Delhi paramedical student in 2012 – a case that caused widespread protests and made international headlines. But stronger laws didn't prevent rapes and other crimes against women. The numbers, in fact, have risen.

"Unless the root cause of the problem is addressed, we are not going to see much change," activist Bhayana told CBS News. "We need to educate the boys about gender sensitivity in classrooms, but also run such programs for school dropouts. It's a long battle."

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