Three men were sentenced to death on Friday for two gang-rapes last year in Mumbai, including an attack on a photojournalist that sparked protests 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.
“This is the first case in India in which the death penalty has been given to convicts while the victim is alive,” special prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters outside the court. “There was no chance of reformation in these men.”
Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said that the offence was diabolical in nature and that this would send a strong message to society.
Women’s safety in India has been under the spotlight since the gang-rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi in 2012, which provoked nationwide protests and the introduction of tougher sexual assault laws. But a stream of high-profile attacks has raised concerns that little has changed.
In the Mumbai case, four men were convicted last week of gang-raping the photojournalist, who was attacked in the early evening of Aug. 22 while on an assignment with a male colleague at an abandoned textile mill.
Three of them were given the death penalty because they had also been found guilty of raping another woman at the same location in July. Special prosecutor Nikam referred to them as “habitual offenders.”
The fourth man received a life sentence and a juvenile charged for his involvement in the case is being tried separately. The four men convicted can appeal in an appeals court within three months.
“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 neighbourhood where the two rapes took place, is a central district close to many new offices and bars.
Separate rape ruling
Also Friday, 24 men were sentenced to prison for raping a teenager who was abducted in Kerala state in 1996. A court had acquitted all but one defendant in 2005, but India’s top court ordered a retrial last year. It was completed in six months, prosecutor Anella George said.
One man was sentenced to life in prison and 23 others to 7 to 11 years, George said.
The 16-year-old victim was abducted and raped in homes, hotels, cars and public buses over one and a half months. The men convicted in Ernakulam town included a retired professor, lawyers, businessmen and government officials.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-04-04