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Assault of photojournalist in Mumbai sheds light on safety concerns

Police sketches released of five men suspected in Mumbai rape, one man has been arrested.
Police sketches released of five men suspected in Mumbai rape, one man has been arrested.
Image obtained from bbc.co.uk

The BBC has reported that a 22 year old photojournalist was brutally assaulted by a group of men in Mumbai, an Indian city once heralded as relatively safe for women. The attack occurred on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 22nd. Indian citizens and news sources have been speaking out about the changing safety standards for women in Mumbai for the last several months, and travelers have offered Mumbai safety advice for females on Virtual Tourist as early as February 2011.

The photojournalist was on assignment with a male colleague at Shakti Mills, allegedly a known hangout for drug addicts. As the BBC reports, the two were accosted by a group of men while taking pictures. During the attack, the victim's colleague had his hands tied behind his back with a belt and was badly beaten by two men. The incident was reported to police around 10 p.m. Thursday by Jaslok Hospital where the girl was taken following the attack. One man has been arrested in the incident while police continue to seek the other four.

While other areas of India have come under scrutiny for brutal assaults against women, such as the December attack of a 23 year old student on a city bus in Delhi, Mumbai does not often appear in Western news sources for such crimes. Indian media, however, has not been so kind to the area. On March 6th of this year the Hindustan Times reported that “the city has fared poorly when it comes to women’s safety, ranking sixth among eight of the biggest cities in the country, according to a new report.” Women's safety rankings are calculated based on three criteria: gender ratio, incidences of rape, and dowry deaths. According to Oxford Dictionaries a dowry death is “the murder or suicide of a married woman caused by a dispute over her dowry.”

While dowry deaths are not a risk factor for those traveling in Mumbai, it seems that sexual assault against women is something to take into consideration when planning a trip to the city. In a series of posts currently featured on Virtual Tourist's Mumbai Warnings and Dangers page, user Donna_in_India offered some interesting advice to female travelers in February of 2011. Among this advice are tips to dress conservatively unless at the beach, yell loudly if a man becomes aggressive, chain lock hotel room doors, and to use women's only areas in public transportation whenever available.

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