NEW DELHI — Police have detained 15 men in connection with the gang rape of a Danish tourist in a central part of India’s capital, the latest incident exposing the dangers for women in the world’s second-most populous nation.
The 51-year-old woman was raped at knifepoint by a group of men between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday in Paharganj neighborhood, Deepak Mishra, special commissioner of the police, said in a phone interview. The area is within 2 miles of the presidential palace and contains many hotels.
“Police have identified the men involved in the crime and are conducting further investigation,” Mishra said.
The case adds to safety concerns that have deterred women from visiting a nation where the number of reported rapes jumped 57 percent over the past decade. Indian leaders have struggled to alter male attitudes that have left women vulnerable even after the gang rape and murder of a student in New Delhi in December 2012 triggered an international uproar.
“The message being sent to the world is that if you are a woman, you shouldn’t come to India alone,” said Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research, a women’s advocacy group in New Delhi. “It is a matter of great, great concern that this is happening, and we’re not doing enough to stop these attacks.”
Danish Ambassador Freddy Svane confirmed in an email that one of his country’s citizens was involved in a rape case. The embassy in New Delhi had no further comments, he said.
A woman was raped in India every 21 minutes on average in 2012, according to the most recent National Crime Records Bureau data, statistics that police say reflect increased confidence among females to report attacks. The country saw a 35 percent drop in foreign female tourist arrivals in the first three months of last year, according to a study published in April by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India.
In March, a Swiss woman was gang raped while camping with her husband, while a British woman jumped out of the window of her hotel room in Agra — home to the Taj Mahal — to flee an assault by staff. In June, an American woman was gang raped while hitchhiking back to her hotel in the Himalayas.
The Danish tourist was attacked Tuesday on her final night in India as she returned from the city’s main shopping district and approached a group of men asking for directions, according to Pushkar Singh, the manager at the Hotel Amax Inn, where she was staying. The men robbed her, beat her and then took turns to rape her, he said.
“What part of Delhi is safe now?” Singh said in an interview. “There’s a problem of education among a portion of the population, and that’s rotting the city.”
The hotel had seen a decline in tourists since the rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student on a moving bus in Delhi prompted a national outcry and made international headlines, Singh said. The Danish tourist was due to fly home at 10 a.m. today after spending two nights at his hotel, he said.
At Paharganj police station, 15 men sat on the floor of a room barricaded by a thin wooden stick and guarded by a lone police officer. All of them were detained in connection with the rape, according to the officer, who asked not to be identified because he’s not authorized to speak to the media.
The 15 men sat in silence while they were taken away individually for questioning. Officers at the station sipped tea and communicated on walkie-talkies, while one female officer sat alone behind a “women’s desk,” designated as a safe area for women to report rapes and sexual harassment.
Paharganj’s budget hotels, bars and restaurants are popular with backpackers. It is less than a kilometer from Delhi’s main railway station and a short drive from tourist sites such as India Gate and the Mughal-era Red Fort.