A man has been arrested for allegedly raping a 5-year-old girl in the grounds of the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, according to police.
The girl was playing outside the embassy’s staff quarters on Saturday before she “was lured and raped by a neighbour,” Eish Singhal, deputy commissioner of Delhi police, told CNN.
The girl, who is the daughter of a housekeeper employed by the embassy, later identified the 25-year-old male suspect, who has been arrested and charged with rape, police said.
“She was able to identify him point blank and there is no doubt over this,” Singhal said, adding that the suspect remains in custody.
The incident has appalled embassy staff. In a statement to CNN, a U.S. embassy spokesperson said “we were deeply disturbed by the alleged misconduct.”
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“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,” the spokesperson said.
An investigation has been launched, and a court date has yet to be set.
In the wake of a brutal 2020 Delhi gang rape — which brought worldwide condemnation and still haunts the collective memory of women in India’s capital — lawmakers passed a series of amendments to the existing rape laws.
The amended law lengthened prison terms and introduced the death penalty in cases in which the victim is younger than 12 years of age.
In 2019, more than 33,000 cases of alleged rape were reported — roughly 91 cases each day, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau — but experts say the real number is likely much higher, owing to the shame attached to sexual assault and the social barriers faced by victims.