NEW DELHI — Five men have confessed to the violent attack on Swiss woman and her husband in central India, police say the incident has once again renewed focus on the rampant violence against women in the country.
“Their health and treatment is the priority of the moment,” Linus von Castelmur, the Swiss ambassador, said in a statement late Saturday evening. “The embassy has also been in touch with the local authorities and has requested a swift investigation and for justice to be done.”
Police have detained the five men who have confessed to their involvement in the attack, Dalip Arya, deputy inspector general for the Chambal area of Madhya Pradesh State. They have yet to be arrested formally, he said. Police interrogated 20 suspects in the case, he said.
The couple were making their way from Orchha to Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal, the police said. The journey was part of a cycling tour from Mumbai to New Delhi. They were in India on a three-month tourist visa.
“The men from a local village were passing by and noticed the couple putting up their tent and saw an opportunity to attack and rape the woman,” Dalip Arya said.
The attackers “tied up the man and raped the woman in his presence,” Dalip Arya told the news, adding they stole money, a laptop and a mobile phone from the pair.
The woman was treated in a nearby hospital, led by police with her face concealed with a hood. This is common practice in India, where rape victims by law cannot be identified to protect them from the stigma attached to rape
The episode is the latest example of violent sexual attacks on women in India. Reported rapes have risen in recent years, and reports of gang rape are becoming increasingly prevalent, particularly in northern India.
In December, a 23-year-old student was raped by five men and a juvenile on a moving bus in New Delhi, and later died from her injuries. That attack prompted widespread protests in India and demands that the government do more to protect women. In 2003, a Swiss diplomat was raped in her own car in Delhi by two men, an attack that also sparked calls for better policing. No one has been convicted in that case.
The Swiss woman and her husband were taken to a nearby police station at 10:45 p.m. by a motorcyclist they stopped on the road, Mr. Arya said. The woman then had to travel about 50 miles to Gwalior, a city that was once the seat of generations of ruling royalty, for a medical examination, he said, to reach the closest female doctor. The attackers stole 10,000 Indian rupees, a mobile phone and a laptop from the couple, he said.
“Local people are very angry and ashamed over this episode,” said Ratan Suravanshi, who teaches commerce in the local college and helped translate when the couple went to the police. “People want the culprits to be arrested as soon as possible.”
Officials did not release the woman’s name.