The EU High Representative on Foreign Affairs has reiterated the EU’s commitment to fighting caste-based discrimination and gender-based violence, following the rape of five female anti-trafficking activists in India, earlier this summer. The women were performing a play against human trafficking in Jharkhand state when they were abducted and gang-raped.

The statement from EU High Representative and Vice President of the EU Commission, Frederica Mogherini, came as a response to a question from the Member of the European Parliament. The MEP asked for details on how the EU can “strengthen its support and effectiveness in protecting human rights defenders in India, specifically through its delegation, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, and political dialogue?” and “What action will the EU take with the Indian authorities to dismantle the discrimination inherent in the caste system, particularly in view of the impunity for sexual crimes that result from.”

In her response to the Parliamentary question the Mogherini stated,

“The EU has been following the situation of human rights in India, and in particular with regards to the caste system, the protection of women as well as the situation of human rights defenders.

At the 2017 Universal Periodic Review of India, EU Member States raised the issue of the caste system and protection of women, recommending for example to step up efforts for comprehensive protection of women and girls, in particular against sexual violence… Under EIDHR the EU has been financing a number of projects addressing caste-based and gender-based discrimination and violence, through ensuring access to justice and empowering women/dalit leaders and human rights defenders.”

Read the full question and answer here