Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Violence against women in India

Delivered in Plenary - 17th January 2013

Mr President

We must remember that India is a strong, secular democratic country with a firm commitment to human rights. Much of the comment directed at India since this appalling murder has lambasted its so-called ‘rape culture’, but given the report’s statistics on rape and sexual assault in Europe, and indeed worldwide, we must be extremely careful before throwing stones from glass houses.

India has over one billion people. That of course is not to say that we cannot engage with our Indian partners to explore ways of improving women’s lives, or that India cannot do more to promote gender equality and protect vulnerable citizens, particularly the lower castes. Certainly there have been disturbing examples of apparent indifference to sexual violence amongst the authorities, particularly with the Dalits.

So any sign of this attitude changing should be greatly welcomed. Indeed, if the tragic fate of this young woman can facilitate a new generation of Indian women to challenge patriarchal attitudes and break the stigma and silence surrounding rape victims, then we can only hope that her death will not have been in vain. I take this opportunity on behalf of the ECR Group to send my condolences to her family and the families of all similarly affected victims.