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Swiss gang-rape survivor heads to Delhi



New Delhi: A Swiss tourist who was gang-raped in central India in front of her husband has left for the capital New Delhi, police said on Sunday, amid growing anger over the country's treatment of women. The woman was on a cycling trip with her husband in impoverished Madhya Pradesh state when seven to eight men attacked the couple late on Friday while they were camping, sexually assaulting the woman and robbing the pair.

After the attack, the rape victim, aged about 40, underwent a medical examination at a hospital in the town of Gwalior city, 212 miles (342 kilometres) from the state capital Bhopal, police said. "The victim and her husband have left for Delhi, since there was no need for her to stay in hospital here," local police official U.C. Shadangi told AFP.

"We detained 20 people overnight for questioning and are continuing to investigate the case," he said. The attack comes just three months after thousands took to the streets in nationwide protests following the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi. Shadangi said that police were in touch with Swiss embassy officials, who declined to comment to AFP about the case.

The couple arrived in Mumbai last month after visiting Iran and began a cycling holiday across India, making their way to Orchha, a popular foreign tourist destination in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, Shadangi said. They were heading for the tourist destination of Agra, home to the iconic Taj Mahal monument, in northern India when they stopped to camp for the night in a rural, forested area, he added.

The Swiss foreign ministry in Bern released a statement on Saturday expressing deep shock at the "tragic incident". The attack has renewed public focus on the issue of sexual violence in the South Asian nation, where the government faces heavy pressure to step up efforts to protect women after the deadly gang-rape in the capital last December.

The victim, a physiotherapy student died from internal injuries after being savagely assaulted by six men. One of her alleged attackers was found dead in his prison cell in New Delhi on Monday. Police suspect he hanged himself, but his family says he was murdered. The government has since opened an investigation into his death.

Under a new bill approved by India's cabinet last week, rapists face a minimum 20-year jail term and the death penalty if the victim dies from injuries or is left in a persistent vegetative state.

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