Mumbai gang rape of photojournalist evokes Delhi horror

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 3:13pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 August, 2013, 1:52am


The case of a photojournalist who was gang-raped in Mumbai has raised comparisons with a similar assault in New Delhi in December that led to nationwide protests and a revision of India's rape laws.

The attack on Thursday night triggered protests and 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 attack took place in Lower Parel, a onetime textile-manufacturing neighbourhood of south Mumbai that over the past decade has changed dramatically. Today, upscale malls, trendy restaurants and super-luxury condominiums sit side-by-side with abandoned textile mills and sprawling slums.

Police said the woman was on assignment to take pictures of the neighbourhood when five men confronted her and her colleague. After initially offering to help her get permission to shoot inside a crumbling, isolated building, they became aggressive and accused the male colleague of being involved in a local crime.

When he denied involvement, they tied his hands with a belt and took the woman to another part of the compound and took turns raping her.

Police yesterday arrested one suspect and he named and identified the other four men.

While police have released sketches of the four men, Mumbai police chief Satyapal Singh would not give any details. He said the men may be local drug dealers.

The assault comes amid heightened concerns about sexual violence in India. The gang rape and death of the student on a bus in New Delhi in December shook a country long inured to violence against women and sparked protests demanding better protection for women.

Safety concerns among women travellers were partly to blame for a 35 per cent drop in foreign female tourist arrivals in the first three month of this year, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

A 2011 survey by the Thomson Reuters foundation listed India as the fourth-worst place in the world to be a woman, after Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan.

Additional reporting by Associated Press, Bloomberg