A Swiss woman cycling with her husband in India has allegedly been beaten and gang-raped, police say. It’s the latest high-profile sexual assault in a nation that’s facing intense pressure to increase its protections for women.
The couple was on a cycling tour from Mumbai to New Delhi when they were attacked on Friday night. The New York Times continues the story:
“The woman, 39, and her husband, were camping in dense forest about 400 yards from a road near the town of Datia when they were attacked by seven or eight men, said Dalip Arya, deputy inspector general of police for the Chambal area of Madhya Pradesh State in a telephone interview. The woman was raped by four of the men, Mr. Arya said.”
The attackers “tied up the man and raped the woman in his presence,” a police official told the AFP. They allegedly beat both victims with sticks, then took their cash, a laptop and a phone.
Reports say the woman, whose identity has not been released, was treated at a nearby hospital and released. Police said 20 suspects were taken in for questioning, though no arrests have been reported.
The Indian government has come under harsh criticism in recent months, following the fatal gang-rape of a student on a moving bus in New Delhi. The brutality of the attack spurred outrage and set off widespread protests demanding the nation step up and enforce laws to keep women safe.
Just this week, India’s cabinet approved a new bill that calls for a minimum 20-year jail term for rapists — and the death penalty if the victim dies from her injuries. The same bill also includes a clause to lower the age of consent from 18 to 16 years of age.