New low: 60-year-old British diplomat ‘sexually harassed’ in India

UK envoy says a motorcyclist coming from behind touched her inappropriately and tried to make indecent gestures


News Desk October 08, 2021
A member of All India Mahila Sanskritik Sanghatan (AIMSS) holds a placard during a demonstration against what they say is violence against women in Ahmedabad. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

India is considered one of the world's most dangerous countries for women due to the high risk of sexual violence, according to multiple international surveys, where even high-level foreign dignitaries are not safe.

In a new low even for India, a woman diplomat posted at the British Deputy High Commission in India's Chandigarh was sexually harassed by a motorcyclist while she was on her way to play tennis on Wednesday.

According to Hindustan Times, the 60-year-old diplomat, who assumed office in February this year, in her complaint with local police, said that the incident took place when she left her residence around 6:30am to walk towards the tennis court.

The envoy said that a motorcyclist coming from behind touched her inappropriately and tried to make indecent gestures.

Read more: Girl, 9, raped and murdered in India's New Delhi

“I was walking past the residential houses when a motorcycle came up behind me. The rider hit me hard with his hand or something on my back. I shouted at him and ran after him but he sped away,” she told police.

On reaching the tennis court, the 60-year-old said she informed her coach about the incident.

Police said that they have registered a case and a search for the accused is underway.

India’s record on women’s safety is never too far from global attention. Over the years, India has developed a reputation of being an unsafe country for women.

A survey published by Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked India “the world’s most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence and being forced into slave labour”.

The survey asked respondents which five of the 193 United Nations member states they thought were most dangerous for women and which country was worst in terms of healthcare, economic resources, cultural or traditional practices, sexual violence and harassment, non-sexual violence and human trafficking.

Also read: Muslim women offered for sale in fake India 'auction'

Respondents also ranked India the most dangerous country for women in terms of human trafficking, including sex slavery and domestic servitude, and for customary practices such as forced marriage, stoning and female infanticide. India's Ministry of Women and Child Development declined to comment on the survey results.

There were more than 32,000 rapes recorded in India in 2019 according to government data – almost four an hour – though experts say the actual figures are likely significantly higher due to the stigma attached to sexual offences.

Read: Indian army accused of secretly filming women, children in IIOJK

There were more than 100,000 kidnappings of women over the same period, data show, a third of them with the aim of forcing them into marriage.

India's rape laws were overhauled after a 2012 gang rape in New Delhi but the number of offences remains high, with more than 28,000 rapes reported in 2020.

Police have long been accused of not doing enough to prevent violent crimes and failing to bring sexual assault cases to court.

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