New Delhi, May 3, 2013 – The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR) welcomes the statement of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and
Consequences (SRVAW) Ms. Rashida Manjoo at the end of her official country mission to India. The SRVAW highlighted the multiple and intersecting inequalities and discrimination that render women more vulnerable to violence in India, while exacerbating the impact of violence on their lives.


She urged thegovernment to address structural discrimination, strengthen prevention initiatives, and establish a holistic
remedial framework that is transformatory in nature. Listing the numerous laws enacted, including the
recent amendments on sexual violence, Ms. Manjoo noted that laws alone were not enough. She
commended the government’s swift response to the outrage following the Delhi gang rape, which
although laudable, fell short of full compliance with the Justice Verma committee recommendations. Ms.
Manjoo observed that India lost the “opportunity to establish a substantive and specific equality and nondiscrimination
rights legislative framework for women, to address de facto inequality and discrimination,
and to protect and prevent against all forms of violence against women, was lost.”
Commenting on the numerous manifestations of violence against women, Ms. Manjoo expressed concern
about the violence against women by state and non-state actors, in situations of peace, conflict, postconflict,
and displacement. Observing that diverse forms of violence arising from caste discrimination,
violence against minority, lesbian and transgenders, women with disability; forced marriages, dowry,
domestic violence and witch hunting; as well as deprivation of sanitation and water, needed responses
that address the interlocking structures of discrimination. Madhu Mehra, Director, Partners for Law in
Development, congratulated the SRVAW, noting “we fully endorse the reminder that state responses
cannot be limited to punitive measures alone. It extends to prevention and transformation of cultural and
social norms that blame victim, and foster impunity for perpetrators. Law and order responses are not
enough. These must be combined with initiatives that strike at social and economic inequalities, cultural
norms, as well as de jure and de facto impunity. That state obligation extends to transforming the
underlying conditions that render women secondary and disadvantaged in the family, the state and the
Placing emphasis upon special contexts of conflict, communalism, daughter aversion, and domestic work,
Ms. Manjoo called for specificity of responses to tackle violence against women arising in these contexts.
Vrinda Grover, lawyer, pointed out that “After hearing the testimonies of families and survivors of
violence against women in conflict areas, and more specifically where the Armed Forces Special Powers
Act is in operation, in states of the North East and Kashmir, Ms. Manjoo has observed that a range of
basic civil liberties are under serious threat and violence, including sexual violence, is inflicted upon
women with impunity in these miltarised zones. Once again AFSPA has come under scrutiny. The refusal
of the government to repeal AFSPA in the face of this assault on the right to life and dignity of women and
others, makes it complicit in these violations.”
In the same vein Ms. Manjoo also called for specificity of responses to contexts of aggressive economic
development and mega projects. Miloon Kothari, Convenor WGHR and Former UN Special Rapporteur
on Adequate Housing stated that “we particularly welcome the emphasis placed by Ms. Manjoo on the
link between India’s neo-liberal economic policies and the rising trend of violence against women. It is
quite clear that the relentless and often undemocratic pursuit of the ‘growth’ model has directly
contributed to the rise of patriarchy and insecurity in the country for a significant part of our population
with women and children being impacted the most.”
Ms. Manjoo, in her statement, called for comprehensive institutional and structural reforms, including
judicial and police reforms to ensure transparency and accountability, review of existing legislation and
practices affording impunity for members of police accused of torture and violence against women in
custody. The WGHR commends the SRVAW for questioning the value of death penalty when this does
not address the root causes of violence, and is contrary to constitutional principles as well as established
principles of international human rights law.
WGHR, endorsing the views of the SRVAW, urges the GoI to focus on substantive issues of definition,
procedure, evidence, and implementation, in order to address the abysmal rates of conviction in cases of
sexual assault. It also endorses the call for zero-tolerance approach, including through certainty of arrest,
prosecution and conviction. WGHR urges the GoI to implement the SRVAW’s recommendations, with
respect to the enactment of a special law on communal violence and the repeal of AFSPA, so as to
strengthen accountability for violence against women across all contexts.
For more information, contact:
 Madhu Mehra, Director, Partners for Law in Development (PLD) - phone: +91 9810737686;
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 Vrinda Grover, Lawyer, Supreme Court – phone: +91 9810806181; email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 Miloon Kothari, Convenor, Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR) –
phone: +91 9810642122; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN – a national coalition of fourteen human rights
organisations and independent experts – works towards the realisation of all civil, cultural, economic,
political and social human rights in India, and towards holding the Indian government accountable to its
national and international human rights obligations. For information on WGHR, please visit: