The brutal gang rape of the 23-year-old girl in New Delhi has opened a can of worms for the Indian government, with a number of rape and molestation cases being reported across the country. 

Delhi gang rape
A student prays during a vigil for a gang rape victim, who was assaulted in New Delhi, in Ahmedabad - Reuters

The grotesque incident in the country's capital city saw a paramedical student brutally raped by six men and thrown out of a moving bus, about a week before Christmas. The authorities have dubbed the incident "well-planned".

The Delhi police have charged five of the six accused men in the case with rape and murder and have confirmed they will press for the death penalty.

Meanwhile, a number of similarly tragic and gruesome cases have been reported across the country, highlighting the increasingly poor security offered by the Indian government to women.

Four Year Old Girl Reportedly Raped

The parents of a four-year-old girl have accused a distant relative of the family of the rape of their daughter. The incident happened in the eastern city of Kolkata, according to a report by The Indian Express.

The alleged rape happened four days ago but complaints were deferred because the mother feared "dire consequences". However, the complaint has now been filed and police have confirmed preliminary investigations are underway.

"We have taken the victim for medical tests. She has been tortured and assaulted. There are marks of assault on her face too. But her mother lodged the complaint after more than 48 hours. She told us that she and her husband were threatened against lodging the complaint," a senior police official explained to The Indian Express.

Meanwhile, physicians who examined the girl have claimed sexual assault, although an official report is still pending.

Rape in the North-East

There have been two separate cases of rape reported in India's troubled north-east state of Assam.

In the first instance, police in the state's Lakhimpur district detained Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper Mohan Singh for allegedly raping a mentally-disabled woman. India Today magazine reports three other men were involved in the incident but they are missing.

"We have sent the victim for medical examinations," an official said, adding no formal arrest has yet been made since a First Information Report (FIR) has yet to be filed by the victims.

Prior to the above case, an Assamese politician, belonging to the ruling Congress party, was accused of raping a woman while staying at her family's home. The Huffington Post reports the politician, identified as Bikram Singh Bramha was caught by residents and assaulted and stripped by a furious mob.

The Congress party have confirmed Bramha's immediate suspension.

Rape down South

The infamous Suryanelli case, in which a 16-year-old was raped by 42 men for 40 days in the southern state of Kerala, has also come under the spotlight in recent days. The Hindu newspaper reports the Supreme Court has agreed to expedite the hearing challenging acquittals for all except the primary accused. The rape took place in 1996, the trial court's verdict was delivered in 2000 but the case has been pending in India's highest court since 2005.

The Can of Worms

Over the past two weeks, Indian news channels and media outlets have reported on dozens of alleged sexual assault cases against women, including those of two-year-old and three-year-old girls raped by close relatives in the states of Gujarat and West Bengal respectively.

The central and state governments have come under immense pressure in recent weeks to tackle the volume and scale of rising atrocities against women.

Top government and security officials are to hold talks on 4 January in New Delhi in an attempt to ensure the safety of women. The government has said the discussion will focus on the "challenges in combating crime and strategies at eliminating violence against women".

Rape is described as an "under-reported crime", and even official figures indicate one rape every 20 minutes in the country. The capital tops that macabre list, with media branding New Delhi the "rape-capital" of the world. According to police figures, New Delhi reported more than 600 rape cases in 2012. The conviction rate for rape cases in India is presently 26 percent a year.