LUCKNOW, India - A 38-year-old woman was allegedly gang-raped at the weekend in a northern Indian state whose government is under fire over a string of sexual attacks, police said on Monday.
The woman had gone out shopping for medicine on Friday night when three men lured her to an under-construction house and allegedly attacked her in Uttar Pradesh state, a senior police officer said.
"Two of the three accused have been arrested," senior superintendent L.R. Kumar told AFP. "We are on a look out for the third offender."
The woman lodged a complaint over the attack with police at the weekend in the town of Bisauli, Badaun district.
Badaun is the same district where two girls, aged 12 and 14, were gang-raped and lynched late last month in an attack that triggered uproar over perceived lawlessness in the state.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, under pressure to resign over the assaults, acknowledged that rapes were a growing problem in his state and his government would work to turn the situation around.
"I firmly believe that the government must sincerely work to make sure such incidents do not happen. The government should be sensitive about these issues," Yadav told AFP in an interview on Sunday.
The families of the two lynched girls refused to cut their bodies down in protest at alleged police inaction, which they said was because they were from a lower caste.
Since then, the media has highlighted a string of other alleged rapes and hangings of women in Uttar Pradesh.
The attacks have sparked protests in the state capital Lucknow and in New Delhi, while women's groups have demanded that Yadav resign.
Uttar Pradesh, with more than 200 million people, is India's most populous state and has long been plagued by poverty, communal violence and caste-based political divisions.
India last year brought in tougher laws against sexual offenders after the fatal gang-rape of a student in Delhi in December 2012, an attack that drew international condemnation of India's treatment of women.
But the legislation, which was also designed to educate and sensitise police on rape cases, has failed to stem the tide of violence.