Tourist couple alleges gang rape, attack in India, sparking fury as 8 men arrested

Click to play video: '3 men arrested in India after tourist couple allegedly attacked, woman gang-raped'
3 men arrested in India after tourist couple allegedly attacked, woman gang-raped
3 men arrested in India after tourist couple allegedly attacked, woman gang-raped – Mar 4, 2024

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Police in Dumka, the Indian district where a Spanish-Brazilian tourist was allegedly raped by a group of men last week, arrested several more people on Sunday in connection to the crime. Authorities said they now have eight suspects in custody.

Police in India said they have arrested eight suspects in connection to the rape of a Spanish-Brazilian tourist on March 1, 2024. X @DumkaPolice


Police in India have arrested three suspects and are searching for four more in connection with the alleged gang rape of a Spanish-Brazilian tourist on Friday night.

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The woman and her husband, who was also beaten by the attackers, were travelling through the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand on motorbikes prior to the attack, police told reporters on Saturday.

The tourist couple stopped to camp along a roadside in the Dumka district, where they were later assailed by seven men. Following the attack, police in the region said the couple flagged down a patrol car and were brought to a medical centre for treatment.

News of the brutal assault has fuelled outrage in India and beyond about sexual violence targeting women, foreign and national, in the country.

On Sunday, two days after the attack, police detained three men who were escorted into a district court in Dumka wearing ropes around their waists and black bags over their heads. Police have yet to confirm the suspects’ identities.

CBS News reported the Spanish-Brazilian woman and her husband, who is also a Spanish citizen, were present in the courthouse.

Police escort three men accused of raping a Spanish-Brazilian tourist in India through a district court in Dumka on March 4, 2024. AFP via Getty Images

Pitamber Singh Kherwar, the superintendent of police in Dumka, told Reuters the authorities have assembled a team of officers and forensic officials to bring the remaining suspects to justice. He said one of the detained suspects provided police with the names of other people involved in the crime.

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Police have not officially named the tourists, though the couple identified themselves to the Spanish TV channel Antena 3 on Saturday. The couple, Vicente and Fernanda, said the attack lasted two hours.

The self-identified travel bloggers told the outlet they were camping in a tent on the roadside — as they’ve done numerous times — because they could not find a hotel nearby.

Vicente and Fernanda said the attackers took turns raping Fernanda and hit Vincente repeatedly. The couple said they were also robbed.

In a video letting their followers know they are alive, Vicente and Fernanda said in Spanish not to let this situation influence anyone’s opinions of India as a country, despite visible bruises on their faces in the video posted to their Instagram story on Sunday.

“Do not think India is like that, because it is not true,” Vincente said in Spanish. “India is a country with many good people. It is a great country worth visiting. Like all countries, it has good and bad things.”

He added that the attack has not changed their opinion of or affection for India.

The couple hope their attackers will be “seriously punished.”

Vicente and Fernanda regularly showcase their international motorbike adventures to their nearly 260,000 followers on social media. They’ve been travelling through India for several months now.

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The Spanish embassy in India on Sunday released a statement that said, “We need to stand united in our commitment to end violence against women everywhere in the world.”

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Sexual violence in India

Amid reports of the attack, many social media users online discussed their own experiences of sexual harassment in India.

One tourist wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that he witnessed an alarming “level of sexual aggression” while travelling in India. Despite his recounting of the sexual harassment of female friends and other travellers, the man said he loves India and called the country “one of my favorite places in the world.”

His post attracted the attention of the chief of India’s National Commission for Women, Rekha Sharma, who accused the tourist of “defaming” all of India.

“Did you ever report the incident to Police? If not than you are totally an irresponsible person,” Sharma wrote. “Writing only on social media and defaming whole country is not good choice.”

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Sharma’s post further ignited outrage. When Indian senior journalist Sagarika Ghose accused Sharma of “victim shaming,” Sharma doubled down and said she spoke with the Spanish-Brazilian victim personally.

She accused Ghose of doing nothing to aid Sendeshkhali, a village in West Bengal (the state where Ghose is from), which has this year made international headlines over allegations of corruption and sexual assault at the hands of a political leader.

According to Equity Now, an international non-profit seeking to end sexual violence against women, there were 32,033 reported cases of rape in India in 2019.

Click to play video: 'Manipur violence: Women set fire to home of suspect accused of inciting mob sex assault'
Manipur violence: Women set fire to home of suspect accused of inciting mob sex assault

Survivors of sexual assault in India face many legal and social barriers in obtaining justice (and therefore often do not report sexual violence to authorities), namely police corruption, limited support services, societal stigma and the persisting use of the “two-finger test” by medical officials.

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(The “two-finger test” is an “unscientific and traumatizing” examination that sees a medical practitioner probe a rape victim’s vagina to determine if their hymen is intact, Equity Now explained.)

With files from Reuters

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.

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