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Police: Swiss tourist gang-raped in India

From Sumnima Udas, CNN
updated 10:20 PM EDT, Sat March 16, 2013
An Indian security official looks over the site that a Swiss woman was raped the night before near Gwalior on March 16, 2013.
An Indian security official looks over the site that a Swiss woman was raped the night before near Gwalior on March 16, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Swiss embassy calls for swift investigation
  • Police say a tourist was gang-raped in central India
  • The victim and her husband were camping
  • 20 people have been detained for questioning

(CNN) -- Police are investigating the gang-rape of a tourist in central India, the latest black eye for the country over violence against women.

A Swiss couple was camping near a forest in India's Datia district when a group of men beat the husband and raped his wife, the district's deputy superintendent of police, R.S. Prajapati, told CNN. There were between five and seven attackers, he said.

The couple arrived in Mumbai on February 3 and were on a cycling tour across the country, said D.K. Arya, deputy inspector general of police.

The attackers stole a laptop, 10,000 rupees (US $185) and a mobile phone, he said. The victims went to police and the woman was hospitalized and later released.

Twenty people have been detained for questioning, Arya said.

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The couple is staying at a guesthouse in the Datia district while the investigation unfolds, he said.

The Swiss ambassador to India, Linus von Castelmur, has spoken with the couple and offered any support they will need.

"Their health and treatment is the priority of the moment," the ambassador said in a statement. "The embassy has also been in touch with the local authorities and has requested for swift investigation and for justice to be done."

The attack comes at a time in India when there are calls for stricter laws on sexual assault and changes in cultural attitudes toward women.

In December a 23-year-old woman was gang-raped on a New Dehli bus, spurring protests in India, where most women have stories of sexual harassment and abuse on public transportation or on the streets, according to the Indian Council on Global Relations. That woman later died in a Singapore hospital.

A panel appointed by India's home affairs minister as a result of the case criticized Indian attitudes toward sexual assault and called for policy changes, including creating an offense of gang-rape punishable by at least 20 years in prison, making it a crime for police to fail to investigate sexual assault complaints and making it illegal to consider character or previous sexual experience of the victim at a criminal trial.

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CNN's Per Nyberg contributed to this report.

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