An American tourist was gang-raped by a group of men in a hill resort in northern India, police said Tuesday, in the latest of a series of attacks that have thrown the spotlight on women’s safety in the world’s largest democracy.
The woman was picked up by three men in a truck on Monday night while hitchhiking back to her guest house in the town of Manali in Himachal Pradesh state, police said. She had been visiting friends and had been unable to find a taxi home.
Three men were briefly detained and then released in connection with the attack, Himachal Pradesh Police Chief B. Kamal Kumar said, clarifying an earlier statement which appeared to say the men had been arrested.
“Sorry, I think it was misquoted. I think they were detained for questioning, they were not arrested,” Kumar said.
The woman told police her attackers took her to an isolated area and raped her. She was taken to a local hospital for preliminary tests before being taken back to her guest house, said a local police inspector, who declined to be identified.
“We are in contact with authorities but due to issues of privacy we have no further comment,” Peter Vrooman, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, said in an email.
Instead of dropping the woman at her hotel, the men drove in a different direction for about 16 or 17 kilometers (10.5 miles), then overpowered and raped her, the inspector said, adding that the hospital test had confirmed the sexual assault.
“Her condition is stable and she is accompanied by two women constables. All medical help has been given, and the doctors have been taking care of her,” the inspector said. “We have told her we are like family and are available for any help.”
In March, a Swiss tourist was gang-raped while on a camping trip in a forest in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. In the same month, a British woman jumped out of her hotel balcony in Uttar Pradesh state to escape a feared sexual assault.
Sex crimes are common in India. The National Crime Records Bureau says more than 24,200 rapes were reported across the country in 2011, about one every 20 minutes.