A 22-year-old photojournalist was gang-raped while on assignment in Mumbai, adding yet another victim to India’s soaring sex crime figures. The incident took place in Mumbai – which many consider to be India’s safest city for women – triggering nationwide protests and furor across social media platforms.
The latest incident was reminiscent of a gang-rape in Delhi last December, which led to the death of a 23-year-old woman and caused international outcry. India’s government has ramped up an anti-rape campaign that includes increased jail sentences not only for rape, but also stalking, human trafficking, and acid attacks.
The journalist’s male colleague was beaten and tied up, and left unable to defend her. There were multiple attackers, perhaps five or more, who abandoned the sexual assault victim and her companion. Aljazeera reported that the pair was working on a magazine story about old buildings in the city’s Shakti Mills area.
“In the evening, the girl and her colleague were clicking pictures. Two men approached her asking her if she had permission to shoot. Another man then joined in and the photographer was gang-raped,” Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh told an Indian television station, according to Reuters.
Singh continued: “We've brought in 10 people for questioning. A case of gang rape has been filed.”
The woman is being treated for multiple internal injuries at a hospital in Mumbai. She was able to give police the first names of two of her attackers, who were calling out to each other during the attack. Media reports indicated that one suspect has been arrested based on a police sketch that was released just hours after the incident occurred.
“About 25,000 rape cases in the country were reported last year alone, of which 706 were reported in the Indian capital New Delhi, making it the city with the highest number of rapes and confirming its reputation as India's ‘rape capital,’” said Aljazeera. “Mumbai recorded 232 rapes last year, according to the National Crimes Record Bureau.”
Closing arguments for the four men and one juvenile accused in the December attack are expected to begin on Thursday. If proven guilty, the adult suspects could face the death penalty. A sixth attacker, said to have been the group’s leader, committed suicide in his prison cell in March.