published Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Police nab 2 more suspects in Mumbai gang rape

Hindu right-winged Shiv Sena activists shout slogans against the gang rape of a young photojournalist, outside a court in the Indian financial hub of Mumbai, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013.
Hindu right-winged Shiv Sena activists shout slogans against the gang rape of a young photojournalist, outside a court in the Indian financial hub of Mumbai, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NEW DELHI — Police were searching Sunday for a last suspect in the gang rape of a photojournalist in Mumbai after arresting two more men in a case that has fueled debate over whether women can be safe in India.

The victim, a 22-year-old Indian woman, told Indian media she was anxious to return to work after Thursday night's assault, in which five men repeatedly raped her while her male colleague was beaten and tied up in an abandoned textile mill in the India's financial capital.

"Rape is not the end of life," the woman was quoted Sunday by the Times of India as saying. Indian law forbids identifying rape victims by name.

Police were searching for a last suspect and have said they have enough evidence to prosecute the five, including the victim's testimony and medical samples taken at the hospital after the assault.

It is rare for rape victims to visit police or a hospital immediately after an attack in India, where many cases to go unreported. Women are often pressed by social pressure or police to stay quiet about assault, experts say, and those that do report cases are often subjected to public ridicule and social stigma.

The two suspects picked up overnight and two others arrested earlier are likely to face prosecution under a strict new law that sets the maximum prison term for rape at 20 years. The law was passed amid public outcry over the deadly December gang rape of a student in New Delhi.

Police said the suspects in Mumbai targeted the photojournalist as she and a male colleague were on a magazine assignment in a south Mumbai neighborhood where luxury malls and condominiums stand alongside sprawling slums and abandoned mills.

The suspects, first pretending to help get her permission to shoot, tied up the male journalist and dragged the woman to a dense clutch of shrubbery, where they assaulted her while threatening her with a broken beer bottle, police said.

A court on Saturday ordered two suspects held until Aug. 30, and police say one will undergo medical tests to determine his age after his family said he was a juvenile of 16. Police maintain he is 19, which makes him eligible for trial as an adult.

The two other suspects picked up overnight are expected to make court appearances Sunday.

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