Gang rape of photographer (22) in Mumbai greeted with outrage across India

Police arrest one suspect, seek four more, after attack in deserted building

Journalists hold placards as they participate in a protest in Mumbai on Friday following  the rape of a photo journalist by five men inside an abandoned textile mill. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Journalists hold placards as they participate in a protest in Mumbai on Friday following the rape of a photo journalist by five men inside an abandoned textile mill. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Sat, Aug 24, 2013, 01:00


A 22-year-old photographer was gang-raped by five men inside an abandoned textile mill in India’s financial capital Mumbai, police said yesterday, evoking memories of a similar attack in New Delhi last December.

The woman, an intern in a local magazine who suffered multiple internal injuries following the assault, is undergoing treatment at a city hospital where doctors said her condition was “stable”.

One of the five suspects, a man in his early 20s, has been arrested, while police were yesterday combing the port city for the other suspected perpetrators, using sketches based on descriptions provided by the victim and by a male colleague who was with her prior to the assault.


Deserted buildings
Police said the assault occurred at about 7pm on Thursday in Mumbai’s upmarket Lower Parel neighbourhood, when the victim and her male associate were taking pictures of the deserted building complex for a city magazine.

Five men approached the pair and, after initially offering to help them with their photo shoot, became aggressive and accused the victim’s co-worker of being involved in a local crime.

When he protested they tied him up with his belt and took the photographer to another part of the desolate compound and took turns raping her, Mumbai’s police commissioner Satyapal Singh told reporters.

“We are 100 per cent confident of cracking the case,” he said, adding that 10 people had been brought in for questioning.

“We will gather all the clinching evidence and aim to get the maximum punishment, which we hope will be done through a fast-track court,” Singh declared.

The incident comes just eight months after a 23-year-old woman was gang-raped by five men in a moving bus in Delhi while her male companion was beaten up. She died a fortnight after the attack.

A trial is in its final stages in that case, which sparked countrywide protests and resulted in the enactment of stricter anti-rape legislation.

It also led to tougher laws against other forms of sexual harassment and crimes such as voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks on women and trafficking females for prostitution.

But women activists said these measures had not deterred rapists nor reduced sexual harassment cases across the country, which were in fact proliferating.

The rape in Mumbai sparked anger on social media websites, and scores of journalist organisations protested in the city with many holding placards that read: “Mumbai: India’s New Rape Capital”.


Seven rapes per day
That dubious distinction has long been held by Delhi, where seven rape cases are reported every day.

The anger was echoed in parliament, with federal law minister Kapil Sibal declaring that sexual assaults must be dealt with severely. “India cannot afford to have its women and children insecure in the hands of those who attack them,” he said.

According to official statistics, a rape takes place every 28 minutes in India but only 10 per cent of these cases ever get reported as there is intense social pressure on families, which dissuades them from reporting sexual assaults. Frequently the attacks are blamed on the way women dress and behave.