Indian police hold five men for Swiss tourist rape
POLICE in India arrested five men yesterday in connection with the gang rape of a Swiss woman who was attacked while on holiday in the country with her husband.
All five men admitted taking part in the attack, which happened on Friday night. The woman and her husband were camping in a forest in the Datia district of Madhya Pradesh state at the time, police said.
The men, who are from nearby villages, were arrested in Datia. Police were searching for two other men believed to have been involved in the attack.
The couple told police that the woman had been raped by seven or eight men, but that it was dark and they could not be sure of the exact number. They said the husband also was attacked by the men.
The woman, 39, was treated at a hospital in the nearby city of Gwalior and was released on Saturday.
The attack came three months after the fatal gang rape of a woman aboard a New Delhi bus outraged Indians and spurred the government to pass new laws to protect women.
Prior to the attack, the couple, who were on a three-month holiday in India, had visited the temple town of Orchha and were planning to cycle to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, nearly 130 miles away. They set out from Orchha on Friday and pitched their tent in a forest near Jatia village when they were attacked by a group of men armed with wooden sticks, police said.
The men beat up the husband, tied him to a tree and then raped the wife, police said. They also stole the couple’s mobile phone and laptop computer, and 10,000 rupees. Police said they recovered the laptop and phone from one of those arrested.
The Swiss ambassador in India, Linus von Castelmur, said he had spoken with the couple.
“Their health and treatment is the priority of the moment,” the Swiss Embassy said. The embassy said it was in touch with authorities in Madhya Pradesh and has urged a “swift investigation and for justice to be done”.
Figures from India’s National Crime Records Bureau show that one woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. However, many incidents of rape and other sexual attacks go unreported due to the stigma attached to such crimes in the conservative country. India’s conviction rate for rapes and other crimes against women is among the lowest in the world.
Last month, the Swiss government issued a travel notice for India that included a warning about “increasing numbers of rapes and other sexual offences” in the South Asian nation, and the latest incident could prompt other countries to issue similar warnings.
The gang rape in December of a 23-year-old student aboard a bus in New Delhi set off nationwide protests, sparking a debate about the treatment of women in the country.
One of six suspects in that attack was found dead in a New Delhi jail this past week. Authorities said he hanged himself, but his family and lawyer insisted foul play was involved, and authorities are investigating. Four other men and a juvenile remain on trial for the attack.
The incident prompted the government to pass a law that increased prison terms for rape from the existing seven to ten years to a maximum of 20 years. It provides for the death penalty in rape cases that result in death or leave the victim in a coma.
It has also made voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and the trafficking of women punishable under criminal law.
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