UN Women deplores the rape of a 5-year-old and calls for greater accountability of service providers

Date: 24 Apr 2013

Statement by Sushma Kapoor, Officer-in-Charge, UN Women India

UN Women strongly deplores the continuing cases of sexual violence against women and girls, including the barbaric rape of a 5-year-old girl child in New Delhi. We hope for the full and speedy recovery of the girl and call for the perpetrators to be punished.

This brutal act of violence against an innocent girl child defies the very basic tenets of human rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution and the United Nations Charter. We stress the urgent need to promote and protect the rights of girls around India.

UN Women joins the Government, civil society and UN agencies in calling for focused and time-bound public action against the perpetrators. UN Women also urges the speedy application of the recently passed Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, on laws related to sexual offences.

Tougher action is needed to transform the present reality and culture of impunity. UN Women encourages urgent measures to address systemic structural and cultural issues that devalue women and girls.

As this case highlights, there is a pressing need for institutions like the police to be more accountable and responsive. The landmark Justice Verma Committee report called for urgent police reforms. As we mourn the passing away of Justice Verma, it would be a fitting tribute to take immediate action to inspire greater confidence in the police force. As the Committee recommended, we need to ensure that “police officers with reputations of outstanding ability and character must be placed at the higher levels of the police force.” The report had stressed that “every member of the police force must understand that their accountability is only to the law and to none else in the discharge of their duty.”

It is unacceptable that 73 per cent of women do not feel safe in their own surroundings in Delhi, as was reported by a UN Women study. Violence against women and girls must end. Protection has to go hand-in-hand with prevention to bring about a complete change in mind-sets. Involving young men is essential to make this difference and requires consistent efforts. India needs to build a comprehensive and long-term plan for prevention of violence against women.

The Agreed Conclusions of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women urge all Member States, including India, to devote particular attention to abolish practices and legislation that discriminate against women and girls, or perpetuate and condone violence against them.