The horrific gang rape and subsequent death of a young Indian woman has not only sparked a huge movement within India to demand stronger safety measures for girls and women, but has also elicited significant commentary and outrage from around the world.
Here is a sampling of comments on the ongoing saga from various world bodies, with many observers condemning the broader issue of India’s historical mistreatment of and violence directed at women.
Global Fund For Women [nonprofit foundation advocating for women's human rights]:
“Unfortunately, this incident is but the end of a spectrum of violence that Indian women face every day [including] ‘accidental deaths’ of young women killed for more dowries, to women who venture out of the home to sexual harassment and rape. ... Despite ostensible gains for women’s rights in India, more women in positions of leadership in government, more women business leaders and more women than ever going out to work in India’s booming tech and call center industries, violence against women is increasing. ... The issue at hand is not one of just ensuring the safety of women on India’s streets. There is blatant disregard for women’s rights at the very highest levels of governance in the country.”
Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF Representative to India and Lise Grande, UN Resident Coordinator in India:
"More than 7,200 children, including infants, are raped every year. Given the stigma attached to rapes, especially when it comes to children, this most likely is only the tip of the iceberg. ... We are extremely concerned about the number of rape cases throughout India and the widespread pattern of violence against women. ... India is growing and advancing rapidly, but it is deeply worrying that many women have little say in their homes and communities and are viewed as liabilities. Girls and women need to be valued, respected and feel safe, not only within the confines of their homes but also in public spaces.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
"Every girl and woman has the right to be respected, valued and protected.”
Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director, Human Rights Watch:
“This murderous gang rape is a sobering reminder of the pervasive sexual violence that women and girls across India suffer. The government needs to act now to prevent sexual assault, aggressively investigate and prosecute perpetrators, and ensure the dignified treatment of survivors. ... The Indian government needs to adopt and enforce measures to ensure the dignified treatment and examination of sexual assault survivors. Dignity and accountability should underscore the police and medical responses to sexual assault throughout India. ... Law reform efforts should be comprehensive and minimize the risks and delays that sexual assault survivors now endure. Police officers, soldiers, politicians and civil servants should not be above the law for sexual assault or anything else.”
Global Times newspaper of China:
“The Indian democratic system seemingly can't solve these problems but provides legitimacy for them. India's democracy is now manipulated by a small number of elite and interest groups. This easily ignites massive grass-roots protests like the current ones and the anti-corruption rallies in August. ... Six decades ago, China and India maintained a similar development level, but there has been a widening gap after China explored reform and opening-up. Analysts hold that India is about a decade behind China in economic development and three decades behind in social development. ... Rape cases in India have a conviction rate of as low as 26 percent even when they reach court. Moreover, the traditional social culture that devalues women should be condemned. Democracy should ensure effective public participation in national politics and supervision of the government. Efficient democracy means more than electoral politics.”
New York Times:
“This reprehensible crime reflects an alarming trend in India, which basks in its success as a growing business and technological mecca but tolerates shocking abuse of women. India, a rising economic power and the world's largest democracy, can never reach its full potential if half its population lives in fear of unspeakable violence."
Le Monde [French newspaper]:
"New Delhi roars of emotion and anger. The crowds are out in the street, candle in hand, to honor the victim or the more virulent call for hanging attackers."
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.