A lost Danish tourist reported that she was the victim of a gang-rape near New Delhi on Tuesday night, in yet another high-profile incidence of violence against women in India.
The victim, 51, told police she had asked some men for directions after she got lost while sightseeing. The men then took her to a remote location, robbed and raped her repeatedly, she said. The woman filed the complaint with Indian police, but refused to be medically examined before returning home to Denmark on a scheduled flight on Wednesday morning.
Indian police detained a number of homeless men, whom they referred to as young "vagabonds," for questioning over the incident, and said they suspect that up to six men committed the assault. One investigator told Agence France-Presse that the victim was held and assaulted at knife-point for three hours. She had only arrived in the capital on Monday and was traveling alone.
The report is just latest example of the disturbing threat to both local and foreign women that has gained global attention in the last year. Last year, a group of Indian men raped a Swedish woman was raped and attacked her husband. More recently, a Polish woman who lives in the Indian city of Mathura said she was drugged and raped by a cab driver who had offered to drive her and her two-year-old daughter to New Delhi. One sixteen-year-old girl who said she was gang-raped in October died this month, one week after she said two suspects had set her on fire because she told authorities. The six alleged October rapists are now standing trial for murder.
In perhaps the highest-profile case, a 23-year-old woman was raped and horrifically brutalized by men for hours on a bus in late 2012, and later died of her injuries. This was the first case that prompted outrage within India and throughout the world, leading to stricter punishments for assailants — a doubled prison term for rapists and the criminalization of stalking — as well as more awareness of the crime. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have put a stop to attacks. CNN reports:
Anger about the deadly assault has had a widespread impact in India. It set off demonstrations, started a debate about women's treatment in Indian society and prompted the introduction of tougher punishments for sexual abuse.
The four men found guilty of attacking the young woman in the 2012 attack were sentenced to death in September of last year. Another suspect died in prison.
Still, harsh punishments for sexual assault do not appear to have made the country any safer for women, as the Associated Press notes:
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 Center for Social Research, said India's conservative, patriarchal traditions lead men to use rape as a tool to instill fear in women."This mindset is not changing," she said. "It's a huge challenge."... Cultural stigmas, police apathy and judicial incompetence have long made it difficult for women to even report rapes.
More rapes have been reported recently, suggesting that the attention paid to the crime may have made it easier for women to report abuse. In 2012, 706 women in and around New Delhi reported having been raped. The number of incidents reported rose to 1,330 between January and October of 2013.