The government reacted sharply to a statement by the UN resident Coordinator in India Renata Lok-Dessallien, who had expressed concern over the cases of alleged rapes of young girls in Hathras and Balrampur, calling the statement ‘unwarranted’.
“The U.N. Resident Coordinator in India should be aware that these cases have been taken extremely seriously by the government. Since the investigation process is still under way, any unnecessary comments by an external agency are best avoided,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.
Editorial | Undying embers: On Hathras rape
In an extremely rare statement made by the U.N. in Delhi, which doesn’t often comment critically on internal matters, the Coordinator described the deaths of the two girls belonging to the Dalit community in Uttar Pradesh as ‘atrocities’, making a specific mention of the fact that they belonged to “disadvantaged social groups”.
“The recent cases of alleged rape and murder in Hathras and Balrampur are another reminder that despite the impressive progress made on a number of social indicators, women and girls from disadvantaged social groups face additional vulnerabilities and are at greater risk of gender-based violence,” said the U.N. statement. “It is essential that authorities ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice speedily, and that families be empowered to seek timely justice, social support, counselling, healthcare and rehabilitation. Entrenched social norms and behaviour of men and boys that lead to gender based violence must be addressed.”
However, Ms. Lok-Dessallien said steps taken by the government on safety measures for women and girls are “welcome and urgent”, adding that the UN “supports the Prime Minister’s call for strict action against the culprits”.
In his rejoinder, Mr. Srivastava said “the Constitution guarantees equality to all citizens. As a democracy we have a time-tested record of providing justice to all sections of our society”.