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Rape is a national problem in India: UN rights chief

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, welcomed the anti-rape protests, saying this will help women in overcoming fear in the New Year, Nagendar Sharma reports.
Hindustan Times | By Nagendar Sharma, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 01, 2013 11:37 PM IST

Terming acts of sexual violence against women a "national problem" in India, the UN human rights chief has asked the government to strengthen its legal regime against rape, but opposed the demand of death penalty for rapists.

Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in her detailed reaction on the brutal gangrape of the 23-year-old student in the Capital, who later died in a Singapore hospital, said attacks were taking place against women of all social classes in India.

"This is a national problem, affecting women of all classes and castes, and will require national solutions," she said.

Pillay welcomed the anti-rape protests, saying this will help women in overcoming fear in the New Year. She said the Indian government has taken some steps towards ensuring women safety, but much more stronger moves are required.

"Now is the time to strengthen India's legal regime against rape. I encourage the government to consult widely with civil society…..Urgent and rational debate on comprehensive measures to address such crimes are required," said the UN human rights chief.

Pillay asked the government to invite the “UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women to visit the country to assist it in this process,” since these rapporteurs are independent experts and are trained to investigate on such issues.

She, however, opposed the growing clamour of death penalty. “However, terrible the crime, the death penalty is not the answer, Pillay said, cautioning against such an extreme response.

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