Indian police arrested three men for the alleged gang rape of an American woman hitchhiking back to her hotel in a Himalayan resort, an attack that again drew attention to the scale of sexual violence in the nation.
The three men were arrested today, local police officer Neel Chand Sharma said by telephone from the town of Manali, where the rape occurred. The men are in their twenties, he said, declining to provide any more information. The 30-year-old woman was assaulted on June 4 after she accepted a lift from the men, who offered to drop her at the hotel.
A brutal December assault of a female student in New Delhi who later died shocked the nation and reverberated around the world, while triggering street protests in India. A Swiss tourist was raped in Madhya Pradesh state in March and a British woman jumped out of the window of her hotel room in Agra the same month to flee an attempted assault.
Safety concerns among women travelers were partly to blame for a 35 percent drop in foreign female tourist arrivals in the first three months of this year, according to an April study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India.
The U.S. and the U.K. issued travel advisories urging their citizens to be cautious or avoid traveling to India following the attacks.
A 2011 survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation listed India as the fourth-worst place in the world to be a woman, after Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan. The report cited abortions of girl fetuses, human trafficking, sexual violence and poor education.
The December assault set off a debate in a country where, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, a woman was raped every 22 minutes in 2011. In the two-hour attack, the woman was allegedly raped several times before she and a male friend were dumped naked along a road near New Delhi’s airport.
Passersby ignored the couple and police argued over where to take them as they lay bleeding on the ground, according to televised comments by the man who survived the attack. The woman died from her injuries two weeks later at a Singapore hospital.