The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Friday praised [press release] a recent report [text, PDF] as "a groundbreaking basis for action against violence against women in India." The report advocates for reform in various aspects of Indian life including political, judicial and cultural. The most extensive recommendation is for changing the manner in which police and the judiciary respond to rape accusations and punishments. It suggests the government should increase police accountability and impose harsher penalties for those convicted of sexual assault. Pillay stated:
This report and its far-reaching recommendations are not only a tribute to the brave young woman who was raped and murdered five weeks ago, but to all victims of sexual violence and assault in India. It is also a testament to the power of the young women and men of India, and the broader civil society, who have joined hands across the nation to say "Enough is Enough." ... The Committee's recommendations are grounded in a framework of rights, equality and non-discrimination, and represent a paradigm shift towards recognition of women as holders of rights, not just objects of protection. The report should serve as a beacon for many other countries struggling to respect the rights of women more comprehensively by addressing sexual violence through legislation, policies and programmes.Pillay was referring to the rape and subsequent death [BBC reports] of a 23-year-old New Delhi medical student in December.
The student's death sparked mass protests in India and led to the creation of the committee that issued its findings [JURIST report] earlier this week. In December Indian authorities charged six suspects [JURIST report] with murder after the death of the gang rape victim. In December Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [official profile] called for peace [JURIST report] after a protest over sexual violence resulted in a clash between protesters and police.