World News

Friday 11 July 2014

Tourist gang-raped in India capital

Published 15/01/2014|09:22

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A 51-year-old Danish tourist who lost her way and asked for directions back to this hotel in New Delhi, India, was gang-raped (AP)

A Danish tourist has been gang-raped near a popular shopping area in New Delhi after becoming lost and asking a group of men for directions.

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In the latest sexual attack to come to prominence in the country, she was also robbed and beaten in the attack.

The woman asked the men for directions to her hotel, police said. They lured her to a secluded area where they raped her at knife-point.

She eventually managed to reach the hotel and owner Amit Bahl called police.

"When she came, it was miserable," said Mr Bahl, at 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 woman, whose name was not released, has returned to Denmark.

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

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 moving 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 criminalized voyeurism and stalking.

But for many women, particularly the poor, daily indignities and abuse continue unabated 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.

"This mindset is not changing," she said. "It's a huge challenge."

Experts say the rapid growth of India's cities and the yawning gulf between rich and poor are exacerbating the problem of sexual violence, with young men struggling to prove 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 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 in central India when she was gang-raped.

The cases threaten India's lucrative tourism industry. Last year, the Tourism Ministry launched an "I Respect Women" campaign in an attempt to reassure travellers.

-AP

Press Association

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