United Nations: Women face violence "in four corners of the world" and the focus should be on how to stop this, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson said on Friday in reply to a question about the debate in India over the issue of rape being "internationalised".
"I think it's not a matter of internationalising or not internationalising the issue," the spokesperson, Stephan Dujarric, said.
"So the debate really should be all over how do we stop violence against women?"
A Pakistani journalist, asking about Ban's stand on whether the issue of rapes should be internationalised or not, said: "There is a debate going on in India, which has become a frenzy, that the issue of rape of women should not be internationalised, but it should remain internal and they should have internal debate. Until the world community knows what's happening, they cannot move forward."
Dujarric replied: "The issue of violence against women is a global issue, which the Secretary-General has addressed everywhere he goes and will continue to speak out on... As you heard in the message, the Secretary-General delivered, it is an issue that women have to face in the four corners of the world, in societies that are at war and in societies that are at peace. So the debate really should be all over how do we stop violence against women?"
He was referring to Ban's speech Friday at the General Assembly's high-level debate on "Advancing Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls."
"Rape continues as a vile weapon of war and we see too many examples of violent extremists suppressing and abusing women and girls.," Ban said.
"Early and forced marriages continue to violate the rights of girls, trapping them in ignorance and ill-health, and exposing them to violence."
This is the second time this week that the debate over coverage of violence against women surfaced at the daily UN press briefings. On Wednesday, the same Pakistani journalist referred to the BBC interview with Mukesh Singh, a convicted rapist, who said that the women should not be roaming around at night and that they call for rape.
"Has the Secretary-General followed this?" the journalist asked. "This is a pattern that is developing in India, where the girls are being raped and then they're being blamed."
Dujarric said: "I'm not going to comment on the unspeakable comments that were made by the person accused of raping this girl, but I think the Secretary-General has spoken very clearly on the need to halt violence against women and on the need for men to get involved in halting violence against women and decrying it loud and clear every time it occurs."
Asked at the same briefing by another reporter about the Indian ban on broadcasting the BBC documentary with the rapist's incendiary remarks, he said: "I'm not going to get into it... Our position on freedom of the press is clear." But he added: "Some countries have different rules regarding the viewing of evidence during judicial proceedings."
Appeals to the Supreme Court by the Singh and the three others facing death penalty for raping and killing a woman is pending.