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4 Mar, 2024 14:19

India arrests three over alleged gang rape of Brazilian woman

The country’s rights bodies have demanded swift justice amid national outrage
India arrests three over alleged gang rape of Brazilian woman

Indian authorities have arrested three men over the alleged rape of a Brazilian social media influencer who recounted the purported attack in a video posted on her Instagram account, which now has over 400,000 followers.

The 28-year-old woman, who has dual Brazilian-Spanish nationality, along with her husband, a citizen of Spain, had been traveling on motorbikes across Asia and were on their way from Bangladesh to Nepal when the crime allegedly took place Friday night in the Dumka district of Jharkhand, a state in eastern India. The couple were found by a police patrol and asked them for help, according to local media reports. They were taken to a hospital where the woman told doctors she had been raped.

Later, the visibly bruised couple posted a video story on Instagram detailing the alleged crime. “Something has happened to us that we would not wish on anyone,” she stated. “Seven men have raped me, they have beaten us and robbed us.” They claimed that the attackers held knives to their throats and forced them to a secluded spot.

On Sunday, local authorities announced that they had arrested three men in the case and a “scientific” investigation was underway to track down the rest of the suspects. “We made arrests based on appearances described by the victim and clues found during our own investigation,” a local police officer told media. “The people we detained accepted their involvement and one of them named some more accomplices.”

Meanwhile, India’s National Commission for Women (NCW) strongly condemned the alleged attack and sought swift delivery of justice. Jharkhand minister Mithilesh Kumar Thakur, speaking in the immediate aftermath, promised that the culprits “will not be spared” if a crime had been committed.

The incident has triggered a massive outcry, both in India and abroad, raising concerns over the security of the country for women in general. In a similar incident in 2013, a Swiss woman was raped while camping with her husband in a forest in Madhya Pradesh state. Six people were ultimately convicted and received life imprisonment.

In 2016, an American tourist was drugged and raped in a 5-star hotel in New Delhi. Three men were later convicted in the case. In 2018, a British tourist was allegedly raped while walking to her hotel in Goa. Ramchandran Yellappa, 32, the main suspect who was facing trial, escaped from jail in 2020.

India recorded over 31,000 cases of crimes against women in 2022, according to an annual report compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Of those, at least 22 cases related to the rape of foreign citizens.

The country’s laws were amended to provide stricter punishment for rape and broaden the scope of offences in the wake of the infamous 2012 ‘Nirbhaya’ case, when a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern was beaten, gang-raped, and brutally tortured in a moving bus in South Delhi. The four men convicted in the case were executed by hanging on 20 March 2020.

From July 1 this year, India will have new criminal laws in place through which the federal government seeks to further strengthen the punishment for crimes against women. The new measures will introduce the death penalty as the maximum punishment for the rape of a minor.

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