MUMBAI/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Four men were found guilty on Thursday of the gang-rape of a photojournalist last year in Mumbai, an attack that sparked street protests in the city and raised fresh questions about attitudes to women in the world’s largest democracy.
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, yet an ongoing stream of high-profile attacks has raised concerns that little has changed.
The four men convicted of gang-rape are due to be sentenced on Friday, prosecution lawyer Ujjwal Nikam told reporters outside the Mumbai court where the case was heard.
Under the stricter laws brought in last year, the men face a life sentence. It was not immediately clear whether they would appeal against the verdict.
“Today’s verdict will send a strong message to criminals,” R. R. Patil, home minister for Maharashtra, the state where Mumbai is located, told reporters outside the court.
A juvenile charged for his involvement in the case is being tried separately.
The photojournalist was attacked at dusk on August 22 while on an assignment with a male colleague at an abandoned textile mill in Lower Parel, an up-and-coming district where trendy bars and offices have sprouted on the sites of old factories.
The attack provoked a public outcry partly because Mumbai, India’s financial capital and the home of its flamboyant film industry, is considered one of the country’s safest city for women.
A 51-year-old Danish tourist was also gang-raped in December in Delhi’s busy backpacker district by men whom she asked for directions to her hotel. A Swiss tourist was gang-raped in the state of Madhya Pradesh last year while on a camping trip with her husband.
Additional reporting by Mansi Thapliyal in MUMBAI; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Michael Perry