INDIAN authorities should press on with efforts to stamp out violence against women and girls, MEPs have told the European parliament.
Voting for urgent action to guarantee the human rights of women and girls in India, MEPs called on India to establish national standards for the care of rape and sexual assault survivors and to ensure access to justice to lower caste and indigenous women and girls.
Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP and Patron of the Dalit Solidarity network, was one of the resolution’s proposers.
She said: “The world was shocked at the horrific gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in a Delhi suburb last month.
“But the reality is that this is just one tragedy among thousands: scores of women and girls are being subjected to rape and sexual assault daily in India.
“In 2011, there were at least 24, 206 rape cases on Indian police books – and that shocking number is increasing year on year.
“The Indian government is trying hard to improve things – but this failure to guarantee the safety of so many women and girls, particularly among the lower castes, is a fundamental breach of the Indian government’s responsibility to uphold its own constitution and basic human rights.”
The resolution welcomes the Indian government’s first steps at dealing with the crisis: establishing a new fast-track court, setting up a commission to review punishments for sexual assault, and promising future legal reform.
Ms Lambert added: “But these measures don’t go anything like far enough.
“An estimated two million Indian women and girls die each year from gender-specific violence, including sexual violence, dowry disputes, female infanticides, infant neglect and unequal access to resources and health care, especially for older women.
“The Government must prioritise ending this tragic state of affairs for India’s women and girls, and recognise that failure to do so is an ongoing breach of the human rights of its citizens.”
The resolution also calls on the UN to recognise that caste discrimination is often a factor in violence against women in India, and that all such discrimination on the basis of birth should be outlawed, and existing laws protecting women, girls, and all member of lower castes and none, must be properly enforced.