NEW DELHI: Police today arrested a second man in the gang rape of a young photojournalist in the Indian financial hub of Mumbai, and said they had enough evidence to prosecute those responsible for a crime that has renewed public outcry over sexual violence in the country.
The victim, a 22-year-old woman, remained in a hospital today and was recovering well after being repeatedly raped by five men on Thursday night in a deserted textile mill, said Mumbai’s police commissioner, Satyapal Singh.
She and a male colleague, who was tied up and beaten during the attack, had been on a magazine assignment as interns taking photographs of a south Mumbai neighbourhood where upscale malls, trendy restaurants and luxury condominiums sit alongside sprawling slums and abandoned mills.
Police said the suspects approached the journalists on the pretence of helping them get permission to shoot inside the crumbling building.
The first suspect arrested, an unemployed 19-year-old from south Mumbai, appeared in court today and was ordered to remain in custody until August 30, police said. Dozens of protesters rallied and called for justice outside the court. A second suspect was arrested before dawn today and confessed to authorities about his involvement in the incident, Singh told reporters. Members of India’s elite crime unit were hunting three more suspects.
Singh said police had the evidence needed to prosecute the five suspects, including testimony given by the woman immediately after the attack while she was in the hospital receiving treatment.
The attack incensed many in India already sickened by sexual violence after the deadly gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi in December raised alarms about women’s safety and revealed a culture in which rape victims are often pressed by social pressure or police into keeping silent. The incident reignited debate over whether more measures, including educational outreach, were needed to improve safety for women.
“It is appalling that a young woman working in the heart of Mumbai was attacked in this manner,” Bob Dietz, Asia programme coordinator for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement.
The Indian Women’s Press Club demanded authorities “provide a secure environment for women on a priority basis.”