The United Nations has expressed intense sorrow over the recent sexual assaults on a seven-year-old girl in Pakistan and an eight-month-old baby girl in neighbouring India, saying the scourge of violence against females affected all countries.

Responding to a question at the regular noon briefing at United Nations’ Headquarters in New York on Thursday, a spokesman of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN and its agencies were working with governments to get the message across to communities against the attacks on girls and women.

“First, these two cases that you are referring to are heart-breaking,” Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told the questioner. But he added, “What is clear is that no country on this planet is immune from the scourge of violence against women, violence against girls. We see it in all countries, North, South, East and West.”

Last month, Zainab Ansari, the 7-year-old, was raped and murdered in the Kasur. A couple of weeks later, the eight-month-old infant was raped in New Delhi and a 28-year-old cousin was arrested and charged in the assault.

Both incidents sparked off a wave of anger in the two countries, and off calls for stern action to protect children and women.

About the UN actions to fight violence against girls and women, Dujarric said through various programs, through UN Women, through UNFPA (UN Fund for Population activities), UNICEF and others, UN is working with national governments to try to get messages through to communities to respecting girls, to respecting women.

It is about equal rights, access to health, access to education (for women and girls). It is about empowerment of women, he said.

Through a number of development programs the UN is trying to face the issue.