NEW DELHI — A 51-year-old Danish woman said she had been gang-raped at knifepoint by seven or eight men in central New Delhi after she approached them to ask for directions to her hotel, Delhi police reported Wednesday.
Late Wednesday night, the police announced the arrest of two men they described as vagabonds living at the capital’s railway station, and said the two had property stolen from the tourist, including a glasses case, an iPod, and earplugs.
The woman, who was staying at a hotel in an area popular with backpackers, told police that the men had taken her to a secluded spot near the railway station Tuesday and raped her repeatedly, said Rajan Bhagat, a spokesman for the Delhi police.
The woman arrived in Delhi on Monday from Agra, the site of the Taj Mahal, and was planning to leave India on Wednesday morning, said a manager at the hotel where she was staying.
The manager, who refused to give his name for fear of harming the hotel’s reputation, said she had returned to the hotel around 8:30 p.m. and asked the reception desk to call the police. After consultations with the police and staff members from the Danish Embassy that lasted until the early-morning hours, she caught her morning flight out of India, the employee said.
NDTV, an Indian news channel, reported that the woman had been held by the men from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., after which she made her way back to her hotel.
Bhagat said that the woman had refused to be medically examined, and that police were trying to gather evidence.
Freddy Svane, Denmark’s ambassador to India, confirmed that an allegation of rape had been made by a Danish citizen Tuesday.
The report of the attack comes after a year of intense national discussions on the problem of sexual violence, set off by an attack on a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in New Delhi in December 2012. That victim, who was gang-raped and brutalized with a metal rod, and later died from her injuries.
Amid widespread outrage over the attack, India’s Parliament stiffened penalties for sexual assault, and four of the woman’s attackers were sentenced to death by hanging.
Although the per capita rate of rapes reported to the police in India is below that of many developed nations, some experts believe that many sexual attacks go unreported, and that the actual number is far higher.
Tourism figures fell in the wake of the 2012 gang rape, with visits by women dropping 35 percent in the three months that followed it, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.
Attacks on tourists have been reported in the meantime. Last March, a group of men raped a 39-year-old Swiss tourist and attacked her husband as the couple camped during a bicycle trip in central India. Six men received life sentences in the crime.
This month, a 33-year-old Polish woman reported to the police that she had been drugged and raped by a taxi driver who offered to drive her to Delhi along with her 2-year-old daughter, local media reported.
And an 18-year-old German woman told the police that she had been assaulted in the sleeping compartment of a train headed for Chennai, formerly Madras.