Six suspects were arrested in India for the alleged gang-rape of a Swiss tourist in the northern state of Madhya Pradesh. The 39-year-old woman was the latest victim of India’s rising tide of sexual violence – claims she was attacked by a group of men as she camped with her husband in a remote part of Datia district.
The couple were on a cycling tour and heading north towards Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal. They stopped near the village of Jhansi, where they camped about 700 metres from the road in an area of scrub.
The victim’s husband reported that at about 9.30pm, a group of men came into their camp, beat him with sticks and tied him up before raping his wife in front of him. Up to eight men could have been involved in the assault. The couple flagged down a passing motorcyclist about an hour later and were taken to the local police station. The woman was sent to a hospital in Datia, but there was no female doctor available to take medical evidence, so she was sent to the city of Gwalior about 46 miles (75km) away.
The issue of sexual assault – and particularly the seriousness with which police pursue cases – has divided India after the brutal gang-rape of a student in Delhi in December. The woman, 23, died after being attacked by a group of men as she and a male companion travelled on a night bus. The couple were allegedly lured on to the bus by four men and a boy of 17. The woman was repeatedly raped and her friend beaten before they were dumped at the roadside. The driver, who was accused of leading the gang, was found dead in his cell last week. Three other men and the 17-year-old are standing trial.
Tonight, a spokesman for Madhya Pradesh police caused anger by suggesting that the Swiss woman and her husband were partly to blame for the attack. Inspector Avnesh Kumar Budholiya said the tourists had been careless in travelling to a remote part of the country they knew little about.
“No one stops there,” he said. “Why did they choose that place? They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They would have passed a police station on the way to the area they camped. They should have stopped and asked about places to sleep.”