India arrests three men for alleged gang-rape of foreign tourist

Police in eastern India have arrested three men for the alleged gang rape of a foreign tourist and assault of her husband, as they hunt for four more suspects in a case that highlights the country’s decades-long struggle to curb sexual violence against women.

The couple, who had been travelling by motorcycle from the state of West Bengal to neighbouring Nepal, were found late Friday by police officers on patrol, said Pitambar Singh Kherwar, superintendent of Dumka district police in Jharkhand state.

They were taken to the hospital, where the woman told the doctor she had been raped, he said.

Police know the identities of the wanted suspects and have formed a special investigative team, Kherwar said. It is unclear whether the three arrested suspects have legal representation.

CNN is not naming the female victim, in accordance with Indian law that prevents the naming of victims of sexual violence. Police have not disclosed the names or nationalities of the couple.

The arrests come after a travel vlogger couple on Saturday posted on their Instagram account that they had “knives (held) to our throats,” during an attack in India. The woman had been raped and brought to the hospital for DNA testing, they said.

The couple posts in Spanish, and the woman says on her Instagram page that she is Brazilian.

On their Instagram story, the woman showed bruises on her face, saying, “This is what my face looks like, but it isn’t what hurts the most. I thought I was going to die.”

In a follow-up post-Sunday, the couple thanked their followers for their support, saying they are doing well and that “the police is doing everything possible to catch” the remaining suspects.

CNN has reached out to the couple for comment.

India’s National Commission for Women (NCW) condemned the alleged attack.

NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma has spoken to the victim and extended all required assistance, the organization posted on social platform X on Saturday.

Jharkhand minister Mithilesh Kumar Thakur called the alleged assault a “condemnable incident.”

“If a crime has been committed, the culprits will not be spared,” he said on Saturday.

India has struggled for years to tackle high rates of violence against women, with a number of high-profile rape cases involving foreign visitors drawing international attention to the issue.

In 2018, A British woman was allegedly raped while walking to her hotel in the western state of Goa, a popular tourist destination; two years earlier, an American woman was allegedly drugged and raped by a group of men in her five-star hotel room in New Delhi. And in 2013, six men were sentenced to life in prison for the gang rape of a Swiss tourist.

According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 31,516 rape cases were recorded in 2022, an average of 86 cases per day.

And experts warn that the number of cases recorded is just a small fraction of what may be the real number, in a deeply patriarchal country where shame and stigma surround rape victims and their families.

Under India’s current laws, it is still not a crime for a man to force sex or sexual acts on his wife, as long as she is over 18.

Perhaps India’s most infamous case of recent years was the 2012 gang rape of a medical student who was beaten, tortured and left to die following a brutal attack on a public bus in New Delhi.

The case and ensuing nationwide protests drew international media scrutiny – and prompted authorities to enact legal reforms. The rape law was amended in 2013 to broaden the definition of the crime and set strict punishments not only for rape but also for sexual assault, voyeurism, and stalking.

Despite these changes, rape cases remain prevalent in the country – with victims and advocates saying the government is still not doing enough to protect women and punish attackers.

Source: CNN

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