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India rape: Police hunt attacker of 7-year-old

By Harmeet Shah Singh and Joe Sterling, CNN
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue August 13, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The girl was raped in the toilet compartment of a train, police say
  • Police are fanning out to capture the suspect
  • The victim is in stable condition at a hospital

(CNN) -- A 7-year-old girl was raped in a train's toilet compartment in central India over the weekend, police said Tuesday.

The incident comes amid widespread outrage in recent months over sex crimes across India.

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The child was lured away from her mother and her friend by a man in a park in Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh state, on Friday, railway police superintendent K.C. Agrawal told CNN.

Police suspect that man then took her on board a train and sexually assaulted her in the toilet compartment of a carriage sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning.

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The suspect "was apparently known to the friend of the child's mother," Agrawal said.

The alleged attacker, around age 40, remains at large.

Police teams, Agrawal said, have fanned out to capture the suspect, whose identity has not been disclosed.

The victim, who was found on Saturday morning at a train station, is under treatment at a hospital, and her condition is stable, police said.

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Sex crimes, harassment a major issue

A robust public dialogue on sex crimes in India emerged in December after the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in a bus in New Delhi. The student died in a Singapore hospital.

Her case focused the nation's attention and anger on sex crimes. An outcry quickly grew over reportedly widespread harassment of women in public.

Demonstrators took to the streets to call for stricter laws on sexual assault and changes in cultural attitudes toward women.

Last month, a court convicted six men to life in prison in the gang rape of a Swiss tourist in Madhya Pradesh state. The men have denied the charges.

The victim and her husband were on a cycling tour across India and had set up camp near a forest in Datia district when a group of men assaulted them, beating the husband and raping the wife, according to police.

The men were members of a local tribe who live near where the travelers were camping.

CNN's Harmeet Shah Singh reported from New Delhi, India. Joe Sterling reported from Atlanta.

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