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India sex attack: Woman leaps through window to avoid assault

A British woman backpacking across Asia injured her leg after jumping from a hotel window because she feared an attempted sexual assault, police in Agra said.

The woman, a 32-year-old from South-East London, injured her leg in the fall and had to receive treatment for a torn ligament. She is currently under police protection.

The Foreign Office said it was urgently checking in to the incident, and said it was providing consular assistance to the woman. Just this morning the FCO had updated its travel advice for women in India, urging them to be cautious in the wake of the gang-rape of a Swiss tourist on Friday.

The British tourist had arrived in Udaipur, Rajasthan on Sunday. In Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, she booked into the Agra Mahal budget hotel in the city’s Army cantonment area.

At around 4am the hotel’s manager, Sachin Johan, knocked on her door continually and demanded to be allowed into her room, police sources said.

Another man, believed to be the security guard at the guest house, also allegedly joined in banging on the door.

The woman had inquired about the possibility of a massage earlier the previous day, and the manager had demanded to be allowed in to give her the massage, police sources said.

The Briton said she became so afraid she was about to be sexually assaulted that she opened the window of her room and jumped to escape. It was not clear what floor she was on when she jumped.

The woman had planned to travel on to Jaipur in Rajasthan today and then to Delhi before taking a flight to Beijing as part of a backpacking tour of Asia.

Police in Agra said they had arrested Mr Johan, who is the brother in law of the hotel’s owner, and his security guard on "eve-teasing" charges – an Indian term for sexual harassment. They are still in police custody but are likely to be released on bail.

The accused however strongly deny the charges and say they had knocked on her door at her request for an early morning call to make sure she did not miss her 5.50 train to Jaipur.

“She got frightened so she ran to the other end of the room and jumped out of the window,” Pawan Kumar, superintendent of police in Agra, told the news agency AFP. .

The victim had suffered a ligament fracture in one leg but her injuries were not serious, Swaranjeet, deputy superintendent of police in Agra, who only uses one name, told AFP.

"But she is very scared and has cancelled her plans to keep travelling in India. She just wants to return home," she added.

The incident comes just days after a Swiss cyclist was gang-raped by a group of villagers on Friday night while on a cycling trip with her husband that included a stop in the Taj Mahal city of Agra.

The attack renewed focus on the country's poor record on safety for women, with campaigners declaring that men in the country had "gone berserk".

Just yesterday, an Indian state minister appeared to put part of the blame on the victims, saying that tourists were putting themselves at danger of rape by not informing police of their travel plans.

The attack on the Swiss woman and her husband was "unfortunate", Uma Shankar Gupta told the television news channel NDTV, but tourists should closely follow the rules for foreign travelers.

There has been a wave of anger and public protests against rapes and sexual attacks on women since the fatal gang-rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi in December.

The Indian government has been under intense pressure to curb the violence. Last week, ministers came under fire after passing a law intended to crack down on sexual assaults, but which failed to make marital rape a criminal offence.

Today, the FCO updated its advice for travellers to India. Women in particular were urged to use caution: "Reported cases of sexual assault against women and young girls are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk.

"British women have been the victims of sexual assault in Goa, Delhi, Bangalore and Rajasthan and women travellers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men.

"A Swiss national suffered a serious sexual attack in Madyha Pradesh on 16 March. Women travellers should exercise caution when travelling in India even if they are travelling in a group.

"If you are a woman travelling in India you should respect local dress codes and customs and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, when alone at any time of day."