Saturday, March 16, 2013

India: Swiss Couple Cycling, Camping Across India Robbed, Wife Gang-Raped by 8 Assailants

According to The Times of India, a Swiss woman, believed to be in her 20s or 30s, was gang-raped by a group of eight unidentified persons in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday (March 14). 

The robbery and gang-rape occurred late on Thursday night while the woman, along with her husband. as part of their cycling across India tour, camped at a place on their way back from Orchha, where the temples of Lord Ram are situated, and were proceeding to Agra when set upon by eight assailants.

According to police, the victim was repeatedly raped in the presence of her husband.

Subsequently, the traumatized victim was admitted to Kamalaraje Hospital in Gwalior. Unquestionably, her forensic examination revealed that she had been repeatedly raped.

COMMENT: Although in typical fashion in developing countries, eight suspects have been "rounded up" on the basis of suspicion, although they may not necessarily be the actual assailants. Nevertheless, the police are continuing to canvass the area. 

Although I'm a cyclist myself, knowing what I know about crime in India, I would never cycle across the country or camp out in isolated areas where "anything" can happen. 

Unfortunately, many foreign travelers never ask themselves whether an area is safe to camp in or whether they should be bike-touring as they no doubt have done at home. Venue means everything and personal risks can be extraordinary depending on personal choices. 

First of all, and sad as it is to say, sexual assault and rape is culturally driven in India, where incidence of gang-rape frequently are described in both print and broadcast media nationwide. 

It is one thing for a solo traveler or a couple, as in this case, to travel across India with the plan of staying at established accommodations that are reputable and safe, but biking across India and camping in open and potentially vulnerable space is rarely prudent regardless of gender. 

For some of our readers who might dispel this advice, I would only ask that you do a subject search, using the word "rape," and search my entire database of nearly 2,000 postings. Alternatively, type in "India" and examine the results you might see.  

Our empathy and prayers go out to the couple who experienced this devastating attack and hope that they are able to find peace, closure and solace in the months ahead, as they are both going to have challenging work ahead in putting this tragic event behind them. 

Madhya Pradesh, often referred to as "MP," is a state located in the heart of India. MP is a state of 75 million people in one of the least-developed states. The state is home to a large tribal population that has been largely cut-off from mainstream development. The state's per-capita gdp is the fourth lowest in the country.