United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has decried the rape and murder of two Indian teens, stating that the crime is inhumane, and has condemned the government as being dismissive. “In just the last two weeks, we have seen despicable attacks against women and girls around the world — from Nigeria to Pakistan and from California to India,” Ki-moon said in a June 3 statement made on the occasion of the launch of a video campaign on ending sexual violence through gender equality. “I was especially appalled by the brutal rape and gruesome murder of two teenaged women in India who had ventured out because they did not have access to a toilet.” Ki-moon, who is the eighth and current secretary-general of the United Nations, referenced the gang rape and killing of two cousins, aged 14 and 15, from India’s small village of Katra. Disappearing the evening of May 27 after going out to relieve themselves because they did not have a toilet in their home, the girls’ bodies were found the following morning hanging from a mango tree. Criticizing the state’s Samajwadi Party leader, Mulayam Singh Yadav, who according to Vatican Radio is said to have dismissed the rapists, saying, “boys will be boys” during India’s recent election campaign, the secretary-general voiced that “We say no” to this “dismissive, destructive attitude.” Vatican Radio reports that the U.N. official also expressed harsh condemnation to Mulayam’s son Akhilesh Yadav, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh under the Samajwadi Party banner, who taunted reporters over the case, saying “Aren't you safe? You're not facing any danger, are you? Then why are you worried? What's it to you?” Referencing the Twitter hashtag currently promoting the June 10 —13 Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in London, Ki-moon explained that “I am here to declare with all of you: it is time to act.” “Violence against women is a peace and security issue. It is a human rights issue. It is a development issue,” he stated, affirming, “We must respond on all fronts and achieve full equality for all women.” “Together we can empower more people to understand that violence against women degrades us all,” he stated, drawing attention to the work of Dr. Denis Mukwege in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whom he referred to as a “personal hero in the fight to end sexual violence.” Noting how the doctor was nearly killed for assisting survivors of sexual violence, the U.N. official lauded the fact that he continued to treat them regardless of the danger. “Dr. Mukwege says sexual violence continues because of indifference, as if the crimes happen to someone else,” Ki-moon observed, quoting the doctor’s affirmation that “really, it happened to one of us. We all belong to the same family of human society.” Reiterating that we “are one human family,” the secretary-general explained that “I stand here with the head of U.N. Women and my Special Representative to demonstrate that the United Nations is mobilized.” “I hope to hear more and louder outcries against sexual violence,” he expressed, stating that “I will be raising my voice — and I count on all of you to join our chorus demanding action around the world.”
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