NEW DELHI – Five Indians who raped a Danish tourist after she asked for directions in New Delhi were sentenced to life in prison Friday for the attack two years ago that highlighted the plague of sexual violence in the country.
Judge Ramesh Kumar said the convicts, aged 23 to 30, were guilty of gang rape, kidnapping, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation. Dinesh Sharma, the attorney for the defendants, sought leniency, saying the convicts came from poor backgrounds. The men had pleaded not guilty and can appeal the verdict.
READ MORE: Danish tourist gang-raped in Indian capital after asking for directions, police say
Police said the 51-year-old woman approached several vagabonds on the night of Jan. 14, 2014, to ask for directions back to her hotel near Connaught Place, a popular shopping area in the capital. Nine attackers took her to a secluded spot, robbed her and raped her repeatedly at knifepoint. One of the convicts was found with the victim’s glasses case and 1,000 rupees ($15) in cash.
One of the accused men died during trial in February. Three who were younger than 18 at the time of the attack were handed to the Juvenile Justice Board to remain in custody until they are 18 and reformed.
WATCH: Danish tourist gang raped in India
Violence against women in India has caused increasing alarm since the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old Indian physiotherapy student in New Delhi in 2012. Several foreign tourists also have been targeted in attacks that often get international attention, although Indian women are assaulted far more frequently.
Public fury over the 2012 rape case led to more stringent laws that doubled prison terms for rape to 20 years and criminalized voyeurism and stalking. But many women say daily indignities and abuse continue unabated and that the new laws have not made the streets any safer.