Mumbai photojournalist gang-raped on assignment

There have been huge protests against rape in India in recent months

A 22-year-old photojournalist has been gang-raped by five men in the Indian city of Mumbai, police say.

The woman, who was on assignment on Thursday evening in the Lower Parel area when she was attacked, is in hospital with multiple injuries.

She was accompanied by a male colleague who was beaten by her attackers. Police have arrested one of the suspects.

In a similar case last December, a 23-year-old student was gang-raped on a bus in the capital, Delhi.

India's financial capital has always been seen as the safest city for women in India.

Of course there are still countless cases of sexual harassment (known as Eve-teasing in India), which take place, but it is generally seen as a safe place for women to travel alone in. It's normal for young females to take auto-rickshaws, taxis or trains on their own, even late at night.

Compare this with Delhi, the scene of last year's highly publicised gang rape, where women are urged not to travel alone past 9pm, and which widely has a reputation as being unsafe for women.

What makes event in Mumbai more shocking is that it happened at 6pm, in a very central area of the city, not too far from a large mall, the racecourse and a busy railway station, as well as plenty of offices. I've been in this area alone on many occasions, and never once felt I might be at undue risk.

In that case, the woman and her male friend were brutally assaulted and she later died in hospital from her injuries.

The attack sparked nationwide protests and forced the authorities to introduce tougher laws for crimes against women.

'Reprehensible'

The victim of Thursday's attack worked as an intern with a Mumbai-based English magazine and had gone to the Shakti Mills - a former textile mill that now lies abandoned and in ruins - for a photo shoot, police said.

She has been admitted to Jaslok hospital in Mumbai, which said that she was stable and able to speak.

"She went through a minor investigation procedure today [Friday] morning. She had both internal and external injuries," the statement said.

Hundreds of demonstrators have staged a silent protest in the city.

Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh said the incident took place between "6pm and 6:30pm on Thursday" and described it as "reprehensible".

"The man [victim's male colleague] was clicking pictures on a camera while the girl was taking pictures on her mobile phone in the dilapidated building when one accused accosted them and inquired why they were there at the railway property," he said.

"He later called four more men to the spot. They tied the male colleague's hands with a belt and took the girl to the bushes and raped her."

Mr Singh said nearly 20 teams had been formed to investigate the case and that all the accused had been identified.

Earlier, police said 35 people had been detained and were being questioned. Sketches of the five accused were also released.

'Deeply disturbing'

The attack has led to outrage in India with many taking to social media to express their anger.

Photojournalists hold placards as they protest against the gang rape of a 22-year-old woman photojournalist in Mumbai India, Friday, Aug 23, 2013. Photojournalists were among hundreds who demonstrated against the rape in Mumbai
The abandoned textile mill where a photojournalist was raped by five men in Mumbai on August 22, 2013 The abandoned textile mill in Mumbai's Lower Parel area where the photojournalist was raped
A policeman cordons off the area near the crime scene where a photo journalist was raped by five men inside an abandoned textile mill in Mumbai The woman was dragged into bushes where she was assaulted, police said
Policemen on 23 August 2013 survey the crime scene where a photojournalist was raped inside an abandoned textile mill in Mumbai  Police said nearly 20 teams had been formed to investigate the case
Police have released sketches of the five men they are seeking Police have released sketches of the five men they are seeking
Policemen stand at the entrance gate to the city hospital where the gang rape victim is admitted, in Mumbai early morning on August 23, 2013 The woman has been admitted to Mumbai's Jaslok hospital where she is being treated for multiple injuries

"Sick and deeply disturbing," tweeted musician Shekhar Ravjiani. "My heart goes out to the victim and I hope and pray that God gives her the strength to make it through this ordeal."

Nirmala Sitharaman of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party wrote: "Despicable! We are shamed! How long and God forbid, how many more before the criminals are punished? Wake up, India!"

"Sad validation of the fact that NO city in India is safe for women. It is after all the same prevention/enforcement mechanism in use all over," tweeted actress Gul Panag.

"Helpless to say the least... words like "devastated", disgusted" mean nothing at a time like this!!!! #gangrape in my city... I feel ashamed," director Karan Johar wrote.

"Mumbai's women should come out for a Delhi-like response. 'Work to do' is no excuse," tweeted senior journalist Bachi Karkaria.

Women's safety has been the focus of attention in India since the fatal Delhi gang rape.

Six people, including a juvenile suspect, were arrested for the crime.

One of the men was found dead in his prison cell in March. The other five are on trial and verdicts are due over the next few weeks.

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