UNICEF calls for urgent action to protect girls, women from sexual violence

20 July 2016

A key adviser to the United Nations children’s agency today decried the culture of impunity surrounding sexual violence against women and girls around the world, following a recent case of gang rape in India.

“Outrage is not enough,” said Anju Malhotra, UNICEF’s Principal Gender Advisor.

“We need action now to end this brutality that has become routine and to give the victims of violence the justice and protection they deserve.”

The statement was issued in response to a reported gang rape of a young Dalit woman in India by the same five men who had raped her three years prior.

The case “underlines the heinous culture of impunity that surrounds violence against girls and women,” Ms. Malhotra said.

About one out of every 10 girls in the world will experience sexual violence, according to UN figures – the majority between the ages of 15 and 19.

In 2013, following nationwide outrage and protests sparked by the death of a 23-year-old woman who was gang-rape in New Delhi in 2012, India enacted new laws to prevent and prosecute rape and other sex crimes.

At that time, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, had said the reforms, though commendable, “did not go far enough” to address systemic gender inequalities in Indian society.

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FEATURE: UN champions prevention as best hope for eliminating violence against women

On a December evening in 2012, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was beaten and brutally raped by five men and a youth on board an off-duty bus in the Indian capital, New Delhi. The injuries she sustained were so severe that she succumbed to them 13 days later, setting off protests in India and around the world for ending the scourge of violence against women.