A 5-year-old girl was raped on the grounds of the US Embassy in New Delhi, police say
7th February 2020
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The US Embassy in New Delhi in 2013.
Priyanka Parashar /Mint via Getty Images

  • The 5-year-old daughter of a housekeeping worker at the US Embassy in New Delhi is said to have been raped on the embassy's grounds.
  • A 25-year-old man — the son of an embassy worker — who lives on the grounds has been arrested in connection to the incident, the local police say.
  • The US Embassy told CNN it was "deeply disturbed" by the news, which has sparked renewed debate around the issue of sexual violence against women and girls in India.
  • Indian rape law was toughened in 2013 after the "Nirbhaya" gang rape provoked international horror — but just last year the Supreme Court warned that the changes had been ineffective.
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The 5-year-old daughter of a housekeeping worker at the US Embassy in New Delhi is said to have been raped on the embassy's grounds.

A 25-year-old man — the son of another embassy worker — who lives on the grounds has been arrested over the incident and is in custody, according to the local police cited by The New York Times. The man has not been named.

The police told CNN the girl was "lured and raped by a neighbor" as she played outside the embassy's staff quarters on Saturday.

According to the BBC, doctors have confirmed that the girl was raped. The girl's mother complained to the police on Sunday, and the girl identified the 25-year-old man in a lineup.

"She was able to identify him point blank, and there is no doubt over this," Eish Singhal, the deputy commissioner of the Delhi police, told CNN.

The US Embassy told CNN in a statement that it was "deeply disturbed by the alleged misconduct."

The police have said the suspect is not an embassy employee but lives there, as his father is also a member of the housekeeping staff. The embassy compound is in the upscale diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri and is one of the most heavily guarded locations in the Indian capital.

The embassy representative added: "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."

A court date has not yet been set.

Demonstrators protesting the reported rape and killing of a 27-year-old woman in Hyderabad.
Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Sexual violence against women and girls in India leaped onto the global news agenda in 2012 after the "Nirbhaya" case — the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a bus in New Delhi, sparking protests nationwide.

The victim, who died two weeks later of the wounds inflicted by the ordeal, was dubbed "Nirbhaya," or "Fearless."

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 was introduced with the aim of tackling the issue of sexual violence more effectively, drawing clearer and broader definitions of the crimes, giving tougher sentences, and introducing the death penalty for repeat offenders.

The Indian Supreme Court said in 2019, however, that it was time to "take stock" because those changes had not curbed the issue. There was actually an increase in rape reports in 2017, with the National Crime Records Bureau indicating 32,559 cases that year.

Protests renewed in 2019 after reports of a gang rape and subsequent immolation of a 27-year-old female veterinary doctor in November, after which the police shot dead four suspects who the police said confessed to the crimes.

The Supreme Court is investigating the shooting after Amnesty International questioned whether those were extrajudicial killings.

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