News / Asia

Sexual Violence Widespread in India, UN Says

Anjana Pasricha
A mission to India by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women has concluded that sexual violence and harassment is widespread in the country.

After a 10-day visit to several Indian states, Rashida Manjoo said sexual violence targeting India women is perpetuated in public spaces, in the family and in the workplace.
 
Rashida Manjoo gives a news conference in New Delhi, India, May 01 2013.Rashida Manjoo gives a news conference in New Delhi, India, May 01 2013.
x
Rashida Manjoo gives a news conference in New Delhi, India, May 01 2013.
Rashida Manjoo gives a news conference in New Delhi, India, May 01 2013.
“There is a generalized sense of insecurity in public spaces, amenities, transport facilities in particular," she said.  "And women are often victims of different forms of sexual harassment and assault.”
 
Her visit to India came four months after the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus put a spotlight on the lack of safety and security for women, and on the social attitudes towards them.

That incident prompted the government to tighten laws against sexual violence that mandate stricter punishments -- including, in some cases, the death penalty for rape.
 
Manjoo stressed that sexual violence is just one of the many problems Indian women face. They are also victims of domestic violence, dowry related deaths, crimes in the name of honor and several other forms of violence.
 
The U.N. envoy also expressed concern about the declining female sex ratio in India, widely blamed on discrimination against girl children.  She said the state’s failure to prevent violence against women has made it a reality of their lives. Manjoo says laws exist, but women are often unable to register their complaints. She also says the problem cuts across economic classes and blames it on deeply entrenched norms of patriarchy and cultural practices.   
 
With reference to the new law against sexual violence, Manjoo says India lost an opportunity to establish a broader law that would ensure equality and non discrimination of women.  
 
“It was a golden moment for India to examine whether the legislative policy measures are sufficient to address deep systemic structural aspects, and that is what I regret, that it was a lost opportunity," Manjoo said.  "India has an amazing constitution, equality and nondiscrimination, special measures, ecetera. The challenge is how do you translate constitutional guarantees to make sure that they can be enforceable.”
 
So far, even the new law does not seem to have been a deterrent - the number of rapes reported has increased, including those of girls as young as five. The law also fails to address important issues such as marital rape, which did not fall under its purview, she said.
 
Manjoo is also calling on India to tackle the problem of violence against women in conflict areas. A law called the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is widely blamed for human rights violations that include rape. She visited the northeastern state of Manipur to listen to the first-hand testimony of victims, and is reported to have wept after speaking with the mother of a 24-year-old girl who was allegedly raped and killed by soldiers.    
 
The U.N. official says top government ministers and lawmakers in New Delhi did not respond to her requests to meet but she says she met with other lower-level officials and with and civil society groups working to end violence against women.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid