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Following rapes, UK issues travel advisory for women in India

Reuters

1:36 PM EDT, March 20, 2013

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UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued a travel advisory for women in India following recent reports of rape targeting tourists that have gained world-wide attention.

Police have arrested six men accused of the gang-rape of a Swiss tourist who was camping with her husband in an Indian forest in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, a hotel manager and guard appeared in court after having been accused of sexually harassing a British tourist who was injured when she jumped from the hotel balcony to avoid the attack, according to the BBC.

The assault on the 39-year-old Swiss woman on Friday night came three months after a 23-year-old  student was gang-raped and beaten in a moving bus and thrown bleeding on to the street in a case that sparked outrage in the country. She died later in a hospital in Singapore.

In the case of the British tourist, the 31-year old alleges the hotel manager would not leave her hotel room after knocking on the door to deliver a wake-up call and offering her a massage. The manager has denied the charge, insisting he was simply trying to wake the woman up as she had requested.

Both incidents have again turned the spotlight on the security of women in the world's largest democracy.

One woman is raped every 20 minutes in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. But police estimate only four out of 10 rapes are reported, largely due to victims' fear of being shamed by their families and communities.

The FCO is advising against all but essential travel to India and recommends that women who must travel to India exercise caution by adhering to local dress codes and customs and avoiding isolated areas. 

(Additional reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Writing by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Stephen Powell)