India : a photojournalist gang-raped in Mumbai

31 Août 2013

Yet another shocking rape incident occurred in India, but now in the financial capital, Mumbai, which was until now considered to be a relatively safe place for women. A photojournalist interning at a popular local magazine was gang-raped by a pack of five in the evening hours on 22nd August. She was raped despite being accompanied by a male intern.

Credits -- Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
Credits -- Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
The five managed bind the other intern and isolated the victim to a bush nearby before raping her in turns. Two of the accused allegedly are said to have questioned the interns with the context of trespassing railway property. And during the process of their interrogation they are reported to have called up few other friends who are said to have raped the intern. The incident is reported to have taken place in an abandoned mill near a busy locality of Mahalaxmi in Mumbai. Many claim the abandoned mill to be a breeding ground for many anti-social elements. The victim was taken to the hospital after she regained consciousness by around 8 P.M and her family was informed.

The police have arrested two accused with this regard. One of them was picked up to question on his previous counts of cases against him. He later confessed of this crime during interrogation by the police. Based on his information one other accused was arrested by the police. Both were produced in the court to demand police custody for investigation, which was granted until August 30. The police are also suspecting this incident to have been a pre-planned one and investigations are being carried out with this perspective.

A test for new anti-rape law

In the month of December last year, there was a huge uproar among the people when a physiotherapy student was raped while travelling along with a male friend. Following the protest, a committee was framed under a former Supreme Court judge to provide guidelines for a new anti-rape law. Most of the recommendations were incorporated to frame the new law.

The law which is termed as “Criminal Law (Amendment) Law, 2013 was passed recently by the Parliament. The law calls for rigorous imprisonment of the accused for a term of anything between 20 years to remainder of the convict’s life. It also dictates a fine which is expected to cover all the medical expenses and rehabilitation cost of the victim. However, it will depend upon the swiftness of the case proceedings.

Hue and cry in the parliament

The lower house of the Indian parliament witnessed a series of outrageous reactions concerning rape cases in India. The legislators voiced their concern in unison during the zero hour of the parliament. They expressed their anguish regarding such crimes despite stringent laws being present. The Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath has said a report has been sought from the state government regarding this incident and Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde would make a statement on Monday.

The opposition members claimed the law and order situation in Maharashtra was bad and said no money has been transferred to the proposed Rs. 1000 crore (approx. 120 million euros) Nirbhaya fund. This fund was proposed by the government a few months back side-lining the Delhi rape case. The money is intended to aid in the relief and rehabilitation of rape victims across the country.

India not a safe place for women?

Second suspect arrested | Credits -- AP
Second suspect arrested | Credits -- AP
Though female goddesses are being revered and worshipped in India, it is in the same countries that one can witness all sorts of violence against womankind. A research poll conducted by Trust Law, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation claimed India to be the worst among the G-20 countries when it comes to safety of women.

India ranked 19th, just behind Saudi Arabia which denied women of basic rights such as voting and driving until 2011. A commentator on the poll claimed a commonality existed between India and Saudi Arabia in that the possession of a Y chromosome could make a huge difference in one’s way of life. Meaning male oppression is prevalent in both the countries.

Under reporting of rape cases

Though the public get to know about rape incidents, many experts claim it is highly under reported. Despite the number of cases almost doubling between 1990 and 2008, there are reports suggesting that victims do not come forward to report the crime. The various reasons for such a plight include the fear of being ostracized by the society and loss of individual privacy. The per capita reported rape incidents though being less, statistics claim that in India one rape case is reported every 20 minutes. According to National Crime Records Bureau 24,206 rape cases were reported in the year 2011.

Inspite of the public uproar and the existent stringent laws, rape incidents do happen. And by raping a person from the media, the perpetrators have signposted their boldness to commit such heinous crimes. The government must strive to prevent such crimes and make the nation a safer place for women to live apart from ensuring speedy justice to the victims.

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