By Brian Lanciault
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
NEW DELHI, India–Three men were sentenced to death on Friday for two gang rapes committed last year in Mumbai. These included an attack on a photojournalist that sparked protests in the city and raised fresh questions about attitudes to women in the world’s largest democracy.
A Mumbai court on Friday sentenced Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali and Mohammed Salim Ansari to death, the first time capital punishment has been ordered in a case of rape not involving the death of the victim.
“There was no chance of reformation in these men and this sends a strong signal to society,” special prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters outside the court.
Women’s safety in India has been under the heavy scrutiny since the gang rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi two years ago. The 2012 rape-murder provoked nationwide protests and the introduction of tougher sexual assault laws. Recently a stream of high-profile and highly publicized attacks has raised concerns that little has changed.
In this most recent case out of Mumbai, four men were convicted last week of gang-raping a photojournalist. The woman was attacked in the early evening of August 22 while on an assignment with a male colleague at an abandoned textile mill.
Three of the men were given the death penalty because they had also been found guilty of raping another woman at the same location in July. The fourth man received a life sentence and a juvenile charged for his involvement in the case is being tried separately.
“I think the court has given a distinct, definite and welcome verdict,” said Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner of police in Mumbai.
The attack on the photojournalist provoked a public outcry partly because Mumbai, India’s financial capital and the home of Bollywood, is considered one of the country’s safest cities for women. Mahalaxmi, the neighborhood where the two rapes took place, is a central district close to many new offices and bars. Since the attack, public scrutiny has been at a zenith.
For more information, please see:
BBC News–Mumbai gang rape: Death sentence for India rapists–4 April 2014
Voice of America–Indian Court Orders Death Sentence for Rapists–4 April 2014
Reuters–Three sentenced to death for gang rapes in Mumbai–4 April 2014
Channel News Asia–Indian court orders first death sentences for multiple rapes–4 April 2014