NEW DELHI / GENEVA (3 May 2013) – New laws against rape passed in India in the wake of the fatal gang rape of a female student in Delhi last December do not go far enough, the United Nations expert on violence against women has said.
UN Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo* said that while the legislative reform was to be commended, it did not fully reflect the recommendations of a panel set up by the Government to review laws on sex crimes.
“The opportunity to establish a substantive and specific equality and non-discrimination rights legislative framework for women, to address de facto inequality and discrimination, and to protect and prevent against all forms of violence against women, was lost,” Ms. Manjoo said.
The Special Rapporteur, who visited India from 22 April to 1 May, urged the Indian Government to address the multiple and intersecting inequalities and discrimination that women face.
“My mandate has consistently voiced the view that the failure in response and prevention measures stems from a Government’s inability and/or unwillingness to acknowledge and address the core structural causes of violence against women,” said Ms. Manjoo.
Violence against women and girls in India manifests itself in numerous ways, the Special Rapporteur said. These include domestic violence, caste-based discrimination, dowry-related deaths, witch-hunting, sexual violence, conflict-related sexual violence, and forced marriages.
“The denial of constitutional rights in general, and the violation of the rights of equality, dignity, bodily integrity, life and access to justice in particular, was a theme that was common in many testimonies,” Ms. Manjoo said.
The Special Rapporteur noted that the Indian Government had adopted numerous progressive laws and that policies were in place to address the issue of violence against women. But despite positive developments “the unfortunate reality is that the rights of many women in India continue to be violated, with impunity as the norm,” Ms. Manjoo said.
During her ten-day visit, the independent expert met with government authorities and civil society in Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, among other regions.
The Special Rapporteur’s comprehensive findings will be discussed in the report to be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2014.
Ms. Rashida Manjoo (South Africa) was appointed Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences in June 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Manjoo also holds a part-time position as a Professor in the Department of Public Law of the University of Cape Town. Learn more, visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/women/rapporteur/index.htm
(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13282&LangID=E
UN Human Rights Country Page – India: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/INIndex.aspx
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