India has no ‘Good Samaritan Law’ to give legal protection to people who step in, and Indians tend to avoid getting tangled with police.
One of the many disturbing factors in the recent gang rape and torture of a young woman on a Delhi bus, that prompted widespread protests about the treatment of women, was that for almost 30 minutes no one stopped to help her and her friend as they lay badly beaten on the side of the road.
“Several auto-rickshaws, bikes, and cars slowed down but no one stopped to assist us,” said the friend who was beaten Dec. 16, alongside the woman who later died in a Singapore hospital.
There are a couple reasons for the response, or lack thereof, say analysts. India has no "Good Samaritan Law" to give legal protection to people who step up to help, and Indians often shy away from police forces that are known for incompetence and harassment.
In a country that has no legal protection to people who give assistance to those who are injured, and a nascent emergency service system, it’s not unusual for people to ignore injured people on the road.
“Any citizen who brings an injured person to the hospital can be detained until the police arrive,” says Piyush Tewari, who created the “Save Life Foundation,” a Delhi-based nongovernmental organization that tries to help people overcome reluctance to get involved and help victims of roadside accidents. “Police often harshly interrogate citizens who do assist injured people. They can also force them to be witnesses in court, a process that can take years.”
A police patroller made the first call for assistance after the couple had been on the highway for more than 25 minutes. But by that time the young woman had lost a significant amount of blood.