Thursday, December 19, 2013

India: Three Nepalese Defendants Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison in Gang-Rape of US Tourist, 30

According to AFP, an Indian court on Tuesday (December 17) sentenced three Nepalese defendants to 20 years in prison for the gang-rape of a US tourist, 30, in June, an attack that has fueled ongoing concern for the safety of foreign travelers in India, particularly for the welfare of solo woman visitors.

A district judge handed down the punishment at the end of a trial for the three rapists in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, local police said in a statement. 

COMMENT: The judge ordered the three defendants “to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 20 years,” Vinod Kumar Dhawan, who headed the police team investigating the gang-rape, said in the statement. 

The rapists, who were arrested two days after the attack, were ultimately found guilty of rape, robbery and criminal conspiracy. “The prosecution has established the role of each of the accused in the commission of the horrific crime,” Dhawan, the district police superintendent, said. 

The sentence, ruled six months after the attack, comes one day after India marked the one-year anniversary of the fatal gang-rape of a medical student that drew global attention to sex crimes against women in India. The 23-year-old Indian victim died of her injuries two weeks after the attack on a moving city bus in New Delhi that involved six gang-rapists. 

Four of the defendants have been sentenced to death in the case. The savage attack spurred intense debate about the way India treats its women and led to a toughening of punishments for sexual crimes, including doubling the minimum prison sentence for gang-rape to 20 years. 

In June, the American tourist, had accepted a lift in a truck at night in Manali, a tourist destination in the foothills of the Himalayas, after struggling to find a taxi to return to her hotel. 

The American, told police the truck driver and his two accomplices took her to a secluded spot where they raped her for over an hour. The victim, an artist, gave police a detailed description of her assailants and also identified the truck model, which enabled the police to identify the vehicle driven by the rapists.

It is noteworthy to point out that all women traveling alone should take steps to plan their travels in such a manner that they are never placed in a situation they are forced by circumstances to accept a ride from three local strangers at night.

The attack on the tourist was one of a large number of sexual attacks on foreigners visiting India this year. In March, a 39-year-old Swiss cyclist holidaying with her husband in the central state of Madhya Pradesh was gang-raped by six men, all of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment three months later.

It should be noted that after a series of sexual attacks on foreign women over the last year or so, visits to India by solo foreigners dropped some 35%, which should send a very strong message to India's top leadership, legislators and judges.

I have included on numerous occasions in the past a series of tips for women traveling alone in India. If readers want me to post these tips again, please email me at: