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Safety of women a matter of concern, says PM

New Delhi: As protests against the brutal rape of a five-year-old continue, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said "vast improvement" was needed in the security accorded to women.

"The safety, security and status of women in our country are a matter of concern. We have to make vast improvements in this area," the Prime Minister said in his address on Civil Services Day.

"The gruesome assault on a little child reminds us of the need to work collectively to root out this sort of depravity," he said.

The five-year-old was abducted on  April 15 and kept hostage in a room in which her attacker lived. She was sexually assaulted and brutalized, then locked and left to die by the man who assaulted her. The child is under treatment at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

Following the incident, demonstrations have been taking place in Delhi and several other cities, demanding safety of women and girls. This is the second time such protests have occurred in the capital. Large numbers of people had taken to the streets four months ago, after the brutal gang-rape of the 23-year-old paramedics in a private bus. The victim had succumbed to her injuries in Singapore while undergoing treatment.

The Prime Minister said the protests also exposed "the need for showing concern and sensitivity while dealing with public anxiety". He said his government has "moved with speed in strengthening the law to be able to deal more effectively with offences against women".

The laws related to rape and other sexual assaults against women were amended by the Parliament recently, making punishment more stringent. Activists and political parties have, however, now demanded further amendments in the law.

"All of us, as responsible citizens, have a special obligation to contribute to the social and economic empowerment of women," the Prime Minister said.

(Agencies)

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