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Swiss woman gang-raped while on vacation in India

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Three short months after a medical student was viciously gang raped aboard a speeding bus in New Delhi, a Swiss woman on holiday with her husband has suffered a similar fate while on holiday with her husband in central India. The woman was assaulted by as many as eight men.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The couple were camping out in a forest in Madhya Pradesh state after bicycling from the temple town of Orchha. According to local police officer R.K. Gurjar, the men beat the couple and gang-raped the woman. They also stole the couple's mobile phone, a laptop computer and $185 in cash.

More than 20 villagers in areas surrounding the crime spot were questioned over two days. "We got some leads from the villagers. During search operations with specific inputs, we found that these six youth were missing from their homes. A more intense combing operation was carried out in the forest area and the accused were arrested," authorities said.

One of the accused told the police that they reached the camp spotting its light. "The two were asleep when they reached. They overpowered the man and raped the woman," authorities said, quoting the suspect's statement. One of the accused, did not commit the rape, he said. Once the hunt began, the accused dumped their belongings in the jungle before shifting to different hideouts.

The 39-year-old woman was treated at a hospital in the nearby city of Gwalior. Gurjar that she and her husband apparently suffered no major injuries.

Photos showed the woman with her face concealed with a hood, a common practice in India, where law does not allow rape victims to be identified publicly to protect them from the stigma attached to rape in the conservative country.

Police detained 13 men and questioned them, Gurjar said. Six of the men were released after questioning. No other details were immediately available. Indian television stations showed scores of police searching the forest where the attack occurred.

Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman Tilman Renz described the case as "deeply disturbing" and said Swiss diplomats were assisting the couple.

The diplomats called on Indian authorities "to do everything to quickly find the perpetrators so that they can be held accountable," Renz said in a statement.

The Swiss government had issued a travel notice for India last month that included a warning about "increasing numbers of rapes and other sexual offenses" in the South Asian nation.

The case is yet another reminder to the nation of India of the lack of safety surrounding women there. There have been widespread protests against attacks on women since December's fatal gang-rape of a young woman on a moving bus in New Delhi, the capital. The crime horrified Indians and set off nationwide protests about India's treatment of women and spurred the government to hurry through a new package of laws to protect them.

One of six suspects in that attack was found dead in a New Delhi jail this past week. Authorities said he hanged himself, but his family and lawyer insisted foul play was involved. A magistrate is investigating. Four other men and a juvenile remain on trial for the attack.

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