India

It is time to sound the red siren against violence against girls and women in India

“Just because you can’t see violence against children doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” says UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan in a new public service announcement. “Make the invisible visible. Help us make violence against children disappear. Join us. Speak out.”  Watch in RealPlayer

 

By Priyanka Pruthi

UNICEF India has launched the new initiative Time to Sound the Red Siren, which tackles violence against children and places a special focus on sexual violence against girls.

NEW DELHI, India, 26 August 2013 – The gang rape of a 22-year-old photojournalist has sparked outrage against sexual violence in India once again. Five men attacked the woman at 6 pm in central Mumbai on 22 August, while she was on assignment.

Late last year, a gang rape in New Delhi had dominated headlines and galvanized global attention on the shamefully widespread culture of violence against girls and women in the country. There, five men brutally raped a 23-year-old medical student on a moving bus and threw her on the roadside with injuries that would prove fatal – she died in hospital two weeks later. This savage assault led to nationwide protests demanding stricter laws and punishment for sexual crimes and harassment.

But, despite the outcry, the number of rape cases reported in the country continues to rise.

Unlike the two high-profile rapes in Mumbai and New Delhi, much violence against children and women is hidden from public view – because it is too often tolerated. Weak law enforcement and fear of social stigmatization and victimization stop children, women and their families from reporting these crimes.

A large proportion of reported attacks are against children. Of the total 24,270 cases of rape reported in 2011, which UNICEF officials say is only the tip of the iceberg, a staggering 30 per cent were reported to have been committed against girls 18 years of age and under. That year, more than 7,100 children, including infants, were reported raped in India. Nearly one of every three rape victims in the country is a child.
 
For UNICEF in India, there is no higher priority than addressing violence against girls and women. The organization has launched the new initiative Time to Sound the Red Siren, which tackles violence against children and places a special focus on sexual violence against girls.

“While violence affects both boys and girls in India in different forms, this special focus is associated with the fact that girls are among the most vulnerable in society – and they face multiple forms of discrimination and violence,” explained Chief of Communication, UNICEF India, Caroline Den Dulk.

UNICEF India is urging citizens, lawmakers and governments to speak out more forcefully to fight violence against children, with a special focus on sexual violence against girls, as part of UNICEFs global campaign End Violence against Children. The initiative was unveiled at the Press Club of India with a powerful video narrated by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan. “Just because you can’t see violence against children doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” he says. “Make the invisible visible. Help us make violence against children disappear. Join us. Speak out.”

The launch of the Time to Sound the Red Siren (#ENDviolence) initiative is the first in the series of activities that UNICEF will implement in partnership with the Press Club of India in order to facilitate positive and meaningful media discourse on issues concerning children and women in India.
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UNICEF Photography: Making the invisible visible

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