India police arrest three men over American woman's gang rape in Himalaya foothills


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The Independent Online

Police in the north of India have arrested three men following the rape of an American female tourist - the latest in a series of sexual assaults on foreign women.

Officers said the men, all Nepalis, had been detained after the 30-year-old woman was attacked after she tried to hitch a ride in a truck near Manali, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Manali is one of the most popular destinations for foreign tourists in the country, especially among backpackers and younger travellers

The woman told police she had been attacked on Monday night after going out to visit a friend's home and failing to find a taxi to take her back to her hotel. Instead, she hitched a ride in a truck, allegedly driven by the three men, who were all in their early 20s.

According to Reuters, the woman has told police that the truck driver and two accomplices abducted her and took her to a secluded spot where they raped her for more than an hour. She was able to give the police a description of the men and also identified the truck model, which is commonly used to transport construction materials in the state.

The incident follows the alleged rape of a 21-year-old Irish charity worker in the eastern city of Kolkata at the weekend. Police said they had arrested a local businessman, Sujoy Mitra, who is accused of drugging and raping the 21-year-old woman after her birthday party. ? ?The woman called the police on Saturday and explained that she had been assaulted while in a semi-conscious state, after drinking tea at the 35-year-old suspect's home in the city.

In March, six men were arrested following the gang-rape of a Swiss woman who was on a cycling holiday with her husband in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh..

The issue of women's safety and the position of women in Indian society has been placed under the spotlight following the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old Delhi student late last year. Protests were held across the country and the government hastily introduced a series of measures to try and improve women's safety and to deter attackers

A survey published in March found that the number of foreign female visitors had fallen by 35 per cent since the attack on the young woman, in December.

Yet while attacks on foreign women often make the biggest headlines, they constitute just a tiny fraction of the total assaults upon women in the country. Experts say that in the vast majority of cases, the attacker is known to the woman and is often a member of the extended family.