India: Danish tourist gang-raped in New Delhi

Police at the scene in New Dehli's Connaught Place. Picture: Reuters
Police at the scene in New Dehli's Connaught Place. Picture: Reuters
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A 51-YEAR-OLD Danish tourist was allegedly gang-raped near a popular shopping area in New Delhi after she got lost and asked a group of men for directions back to her hotel.

The attack is the latest crime to focus attention on the sexual violence epidemic in India.

The woman claims she was robbed and beaten in the attack on Tuesday evening near Connaught Place, a police spokesman said.

The woman said she asked the men for directions to her hotel. Her assailants lured her to a secluded area where they allegedly raped her at knifepoint, the spokesman added.

The woman managed to get back to her hotel and the owner called the police. Officers are questioning several suspects but no arrests have been made.

“When she came, it was miserable,” said Amit Bahl, owner of the Amax hotel in the Paharganj area, which is popular with backpackers. The woman was crying and “not in good shape,” he said. “I am really ashamed that this happened.”

The victim, whose name was not released, was on her way back to Denmark, said Ole ­Egberg Mikkelsen, head of the Danish foreign ministry’s consular department in Copenhagen.

The woman received ­assistance from Indian and Danish authorities, and her family has been contacted.

An Indian police official said the woman boarded a flight home yesterday morning.

It was not known whether she had been travelling alone. The Danish ­Embassy in New Delhi declined to comment.

The problem of sexual violence in India has gained widespread attention since the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in December 2012.

Public fury over the case has led to more stringent laws that doubled prison terms for rape to 20 years and criminalised ­voyeurism and stalking. But for many women, particularly the poor, daily indignities and abuse continue and the new laws have not made the streets any safer.

Ranjana Kumari, director of India’s Centre for Social ­Research, said India’s conservative, patriarchal traditions lead men to use rape as a tool to instil fear in women.

She said: “This mindset is not changing. It’s a huge challenge.”

Experts say the growth of India’s cities and the gulf ­between rich and poor are exacerbating the problem of sexual violence, with young men struggling to maintain their traditional dominance in a changing world.

Cultural stigmas, police apathy and judicial incompetence have long made it difficult for women to even report rapes.

However, there has been a surge in the number of rapes being reported recently, suggesting women are emboldened to speak up. Between January and October last year, 1,330 rapes were reported in New Delhi and its suburbs, compared with 706 for all of 2012, according to government figures.

Foreigners also have been targets, including a Swiss woman who was cycling with her husband when she was gang-raped.

The cases threaten India’s ­lucrative tourism industry, . Last year, the tourism ministry launched an I Respect Women campaign to reassure travellers. Tourism accounted for 6.6 per cent of India’s GDP in 2012, the latest year for which figures are available.