5 June 2014
The United States and the United Nations have been sharp in their condemnation of the rape and hanging of two girls in Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh. While the U.S. State Department said it was “horrified” by the crimes, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticised the statements of Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh in an oblique reference, saying: “We say no to the dismissive, destructive attitude of ‘boys will be boys.’”
Mr. Ban, who made his comments in New York at the launch of a video campaign against sexual violence, said he “was especially appalled by the brutal rape and gruesome murder of two teenaged women in India.”
The External Affairs Ministry made no official response to the statements, but official sources said the comments had been noted, saying the U.S. and the U.N. should be aware that “there is a system already in place and the process has already been set in motion to deliver justice and law and order.”
The U.N. has been especially critical of India in the wake of the Delhi gang rape of 2012 and sent its Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, to prepare a report for the U.N. Human Rights Council in April 2014 that was very critical of India’s “systemic failures” in curbing sexual violence.
The comments from the U.S. in response to a question, coming ahead of the visit of the Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal, are seen as part of the increasing attention in the U.S. to crimes against women. “The statement puts the NDA government on notice,” says former Ambassador to the U.S. Lalit Mansingh, “and an international spotlight on how they handle such incidents given [Prime Minister] Mr. [Narendra] Modi’s own campaign promises on the safety of women.”
Ms. Biswal arrives on Friday to meet her counterpart in the Ministry, but is not expected to meet more senior officials as her predecessors have in the past, given the persisting strain in ties between India and the U.S.