Photojournalist gang raped in Mumbai business hub

Group of men make pretext of helping with photoshoot before tying up woman’s colleague

The busy streets of Mumbai, India. Police said a woman photojournalist was on assignment to take pictures of an abandoned textile factory in south Mumbai late yesterday when five men confronted her. Photograph: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

The busy streets of Mumbai, India. Police said a woman photojournalist was on assignment to take pictures of an abandoned textile factory in south Mumbai late yesterday when five men confronted her. Photograph: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

 

A young woman photojournalist has been gang raped while her male colleague was tied up and beaten in India’s business hub of Mumbai, police said.

The case was reminiscent of the December gang rape of a young university student in the Indian capital.

Police said the woman was on assignment to take pictures of an abandoned textile factory in south Mumbai late yesterday when five men confronted her, making a pretext of offering to help her get permission to shoot inside the building.

The attack took place in Lower Parel, a former textile manufacturing neighbourhood of south Mumbai that over the past decade has changed dramatically, with upmarket malls, restaurants and apartments sitting side-by-side with abandoned mills and sprawling slums.

The five men became aggressive and accused the male colleague of being involved in a local crime. When he denied involvement, they tied his hands and took the woman to another part of the compound, where they took turns raping her.

Police arrested one suspect in the attack and he has named and identified the other four men, police said. While officers have released sketches of the four, detectives would not give their names or other details, saying authorities did not want to give them any warning that they were being sought. Sources said the men might have been local drug dealers.

“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,” Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh told an Indian television station. Other reports said more men were involved in the attack.

“We’ve brought in 10 people for questioning,” Singh said.

The woman, reported to be in her early 20s, is in stable condition in hospital in the south of the city.

The assault comes amid heightened concerns about sexual violence in India.

The attack has caused an outcry on social media, with many users shocked that it took place in Mumbai, widely considered to be India’s safest city for women.

The gang rape of the student on a bus in New Delhi in December and her subsequent death shook a country long inured to violence against women, and sparked protests demanding better protection.

In response, the government passed a stringent law increasing prison terms for rape and making voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and the trafficking of women punishable under criminal law.

The latest attack has been discussed in India’s parliament, where junior home minister RPN Singh told MPs the government had asked the state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, for a detailed report on the attack.

Mr Singh said the federal government had recommended that the “harshest” punishment be handed down to anyone found guilty in the case.

The trials of the four men and one juvenile accused of the December attack are expected to conclude within the next three weeks. The verdict on the juvenile suspect is due to be passed on August 31st. Closing arguments in the trial of the four adult suspects started yesterday.

PA/Reuters