Girl, 5, is raped on grounds of US embassy in India, police say

A 5-year-old girl was raped by a neighbour on the grounds of the US Embassy in India’s capital, police said Thursday, reviving a debate about sexual violence against women and children in the country.

>>Kai Schultz and Hari KumarThe New York Times
Published : 7 Feb 2020, 05:31 AM
Updated : 7 Feb 2020, 05:31 AM

The 25-year-old son of a housekeeper at the embassy was detained in connection with the assault, which took place Saturday in living quarters reserved for support staff, according to Pragya Anand, assistant commissioner of police in Chanakyapuri, the capital’s diplomatic area.

The girl’s parents were away when the assault took place, officials said. The girl’s father worked in a support-staff role at the embassy, according to police. The heavily fortified compound, one of the biggest US missions in the world, is topped with barbed wire and sits in one of New Delhi’s most secure neighbourhoods.

Her parents filed a case against the man Sunday, and he was taken into custody on charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses. The 2012 law introduced stricter punishment — including the death penalty — for those convicted of crimes against minors in India.

The US Embassy said in a statement: “We were deeply disturbed by the alleged misconduct. We promptly took action when we were informed of the allegation and brought this matter to the attention of the police. Of course, we are cooperating fully with them.”

India has been wracked by several high-profile cases of sexual assaults in recent years.

In 2012, a 23-year-old woman was attacked by several men with an iron rod on a private bus in New Delhi and left on the side of the road. The woman later died from her injuries, setting off nationwide protests and spurring the government to create a fast-track court for rape cases and to introduce capital punishment for particularly brutal sexual crimes.

The country also recoiled at a 2018 case in a gated community in Chennai, where an 11-year-old girl was repeatedly raped by several men who lured her with soft drinks laced with drugs and filmed themselves assaulting her, brandishing knives and threatening to release the videos if the girl told her family, police said.

And last year, four men accused of raping and killing a young woman near the southern city of Hyderabad were shot dead under a bridge by police officers who had taken them to the scene of the crime.

Rights activists questioned the police’s account, while many others celebrated and hailed the officers as heroes, showering them with rose petals.

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