A man has been arrested for allegedly raping a 5-year-old girl in the grounds of the US 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 neighbor,” 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 spokesperson said the US embassy “was deeply disturbed to learn of allegations of a sexual assault of a child on the embassy compound.”
“The embassy took prompt action, including reporting the incident to the police and assisting the alleged victim to obtain medical assistance,” the statement added.
An investigation has been launched, and a court date has yet to be set.
In the wake of a brutal 2012 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 2018, 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.
This story has been updated with the latest statement from the US embassy in New Delhi.
Swati Gupta contributed to this report.