January 16, 2014 08:00
A Danish tourist says she was gang-raped, robbed and beaten by a group of men in New Delhi -- the Indian capital's latest reported instance of sexual violence against foreign women.
The 51-year-old told police the men lured her to a secluded area and attacked her at knife-point after she asked them for directions Tuesday in the popular Paharganj area of New Delhi.
Police are questioning several men in connection with the incident, but have made no arrests.
Shobha Ojha of India's ruling Congress Party said India's international reputation is being soiled by the reported rapes.
"It is very unfortunate that such incidents happen in our country, and this throws India in a very poor light and people comment that India has become the rape capital of this world. We have to be extra cautious, the entire society, the police, politicians have to make extra efforts to ensure that we change the mindset of men in our country. So that such incidents do not happen and we make India a rape free country."
Instances of rape have been in the spotlight in India since December 2012, when a 23-year-old woman died after being gang-raped on a moving bus.
Since then, there have been several widely publicized incidents of foreign women being attacked.
Earlier this month, a Polish woman was raped by a taxi driver while traveling with her two-year-old daughter to New Delhi.
Last year, a Swiss cyclist was gang-raped in central India, while a British woman said she was forced to jump out of her hotel room window to avoid a sexual attack in Agra, the city that is home to the Taj Mahal.
In response, authorities have strengthened rape punishments and launched an "I Respect Women" tourism campaign aimed at protecting the country's valuable tourist dollars.
Arun Gupta, the General Secretary of the Hotel Association in Paharganj also recommended changes to the county's tourist police.
"No tourist feels likes coming to Delhi keeping in mind all these recent incidents [of rape of foreign nationals]. The rape of a woman from Denmark is condemnable and we have been demanding from the very beginning to use tourist police. But the tourist police have now just become a show piece and it was never used for its designated purpose."
The rapes have set off nationwide protests. Protesters have called for tougher rape laws, major police reforms and a transformation in the way India treats women.
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