South Asians for Human Rights, a regional network of human rights defenders, condemns the ongoing sexual violence against women and children in India.
This year alone, a number of brutal rapes have been highlighted by Indian and international media. On 10 January, an 8-year old Muslim girl, was abducted, raped and murdered in a Hindu temple near Kathua, Kashmir. On 3 May, a 16-year-old girl was gang raped by four men, who burned her alive in front of her family the next day. Days later, another 17-year-old girl was raped and set on fire. And on 10 May, police in Madhya Pradesh said that a 16-year-old girl was raped and burned alive in her home.
SAHR notes that India has attempted to address the issue of systemic sexual violence against women and children by introducing the death penalty for rapists of children below the age of twelve. However women’s rights activists across the world have discredited the use of the death penalty as a deterrent to rape. Rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India. In 2016, about 40,000 rapes were reported in India. It is believed that the vast majority of rapes are not reported to the authorities due to the stigma attached to victims and systemic impunity for perpetrators.
SAHR recommends that the Government of India address violence against women on a structural level so as to prevent further brutalities. A range of approaches including gender sensitivity programs for boys, economic empowerment for women, and challenging conservative views on sex and gender are needed to tackle sexual violence in the long run.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights