LONDON: The UK government flagged the issue of violence against women and girls in India in its annual human rights report released on Thursday.
‘The 2015 Foreign Office Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy’ noted the steps already taken by India and said it is committed to working with the Indian government on the issue.
“We are aware of the particular concerns around violence against women and girls in India and are committed to working with the Indian government on this important issue. We welcome the steps the Indian government has already taken, such as fast-track courts and public safety measures,” the report said.
It also takes note of a visit by a group of Indian women leaders to the UK in November to learn about the UK’s approach to tackling violence against women and girls, during the week that marked International Day for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
“The group met Baroness Anelay [Foreign Office minister], parliamentarians, representatives of the private sector, UK civil society and UK officials. The objective was to help shape public policy in India so that the criminal justice system and society will be more responsive to women victims of violence, specifically those from vulnerable, marginalised and minority groups,” the report noted.
The annual report goes on to list 30 countries as Britain’s designated “Human Rights Priority Countries” where it can make a “real difference”, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar.
“Some of these are, in our analysis, countries in which the worst, or greatest number of, human rights violations take place. Others are countries where we judge we have the potential to make a greater impact as a result of the strength of our bilateral relations and our ability to influence,” UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond said in reference to the list.
On the global women’s rights situation, it noted that despite progress achieved at the UN level, significant challenges remained, including ending the many forms of violence against women, securing sexual health and reproductive rights, achieving gender equality at the workplace and in political and public life, and women’s economic empowerment and equal access to education.
“Regrettably, despite the fact that women make up around 50 per cent of any country’s population, and despite demonstrable benefits for countries’ prosperity of women’s economic empowerment, too many countries – at national, provincial and community level – continue to restrict the human rights of women and girls, including to adequate health care and to justice,” it noted.
The report every year focuses on three key human rights themes around the world: democratic values and the rule of law; human rights for a stable world; and strengthening the rules-based international system.