The event that a woman died after being raped and assaulted on a bus in Mumbai shocked India because of many similarities to the 2012 incident.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale said the 34-year-old woman was found unconscious in an open minibus in the Sakinaka neighborhood of eastern Mumbai on September 10. The victim is suspected of being raped and assaulted with an iron rod, according to a local official.
The woman was taken to Rajawadi hospital but died of her injuries a day later, Nagrale said at a press conference on Thursday.
Police arrested a man on suspicion of rape and murder after examining surveillance cameras around the scene. The suspect has not been prosecuted and will be detained until September 21.
Balwant Deshmukh, senior police inspector at Sakinaka police station, said that the victim and suspect were both homeless. If prosecuted and found guilty, the suspect could face the death penalty.
Anti-rape and feminist activist Yogita Bhayana said the Mumbai case “has once again shocked the country” because it is “very similar” to the gang rape and murder of 23-year-old medical student Nirbhaya in London. New Delhi 2012. Nirbhaya, nicknamed the victim “fearless”, was raped and assaulted with an iron rod, resulting in serious injuries. She died at a hospital in Singapore, two weeks after the attack.
Nirbhaya’s death brought attention to sexual assault in India and prompted increased scrutiny of crimes against women. The incident also marked a turning point for the country, prompting millions of women to protest to demand tougher laws on sexual assault.
“After Nirbhaya, we thought everything would change. But we kept hearing about rape cases every day. Not a day goes by that we don’t hear about a case,” Bhayana said. “As activists, we urge the government and the country many times, but when we hear about that atrocity, we feel really helpless. I have no words to describe it.”
Uddhav Thackeray, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra state, where the capital Mumbai is located, expressed shock. “The heinous crime committed in Sakinaka is a disgrace to humanity,” Thackeray tweeted on September 11, adding that the case would be investigated quickly and the perpetrators “severely punished.”
According to the latest figures from India’s National Crime Records Bureau, more than 32,000 rapes of women were reported in 2019, or about one every 17 minutes. But activists believe the actual number is much higher, because many people are afraid to report the crime.
The number of rapes reported to the police has increased since Nirbhaya’s death, possibly because awareness of the problem has changed. Experts say the outrage has helped erase the victim’s humiliation. Later, legal reform and harsher penalties for rape were enacted.
However, rape cases continue to stir public opinion. Last month, four men were charged with the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl in New Delhi. The girl belongs to the Dalit community, the most disadvantaged in the Hindu caste-based hierarchy.
In January, a Hindu monk and two male followers were arrested for the alleged gang rape and murder of a 50-year-old woman in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Last September, the gang rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl in Uttar Pradesh sparked nationwide protests.
Bhayana called on the whole country to take action to ensure Indian women are protected. “It’s been almost 10 years since the Nirbhaya incident, but things are still the same. We need collective action, otherwise nothing will change,” the activist said.
Huyen Le (Follow CNN)