Man charged with raping five-year-old girl at US embassy in Delhi

Twenty-five-year-old suspect was arrested at high-security compound a day after alleged incident took place.

    Violence against women in the South Asian nation has been under the international spotlight following the brutal gang rape and murder of a Delhi student on a bus in 2012 [Manish Swarup/AP]
    Violence against women in the South Asian nation has been under the international spotlight following the brutal gang rape and murder of a Delhi student on a bus in 2012 [Manish Swarup/AP]

    An Indian man has been charged with raping a five-year-old girl on the premises of the United States embassy in India's capital New Delhi, police said on Thursday.

    The 25-year-old was arrested at the high-security compound on Sunday, a day after the alleged incident took place at the living quarters for the local housekeeping staff.

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    Police officer Yogesh Kumar told AFP news agency preliminary medical tests confirmed the girl had been raped. The man was charged under child rape laws that carry the death penalty.

    According to CNNEish Singhal, deputy commissioner of Delhi police, said the girl was able to identify the suspect "point blank and there is no doubt over this".

    The sprawling diplomatic compound is one of the most secure in New Delhi, with multiple layers of manned and electronic security.

    'Deeply disturbed'

    A US embassy spokesperson in New Delhi said on Friday that it was "deeply disturbed" by the allegations and it took "prompt action" including reporting the incident to the police and helping arrange medical assistance.

    "We were deeply disturbed by the alleged misconduct," the statement said.

    "We promptly took action when we were informed of the allegation, and brought this matter to the attention of the police. Of course, we are cooperating fully with them."

    India is struggling to combat a growing number of sexual assault cases in the country.

    Violence against women in the South Asian nation has been under the international spotlight following the brutal gang rape and murder of a Delhi student on a bus in 2012.

    Almost 34,000 rapes were reported in 2018, according to official data, with activists claiming the figure is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Experts said most child victims are known to their abusers, with their families frequently choosing not to report the crimes to authorities amid social taboos against speaking out.


    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies