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Rape in India reignites debate over safety

NEW DELHI -- Mumbai police say they have arrested all five suspects in the rape of a young photographer as a similar attack on a female officer in eastern India reignited an angry debate about the safety of women in the country.

The crime in India's financial capital triggered street protests and an outpouring of anger as the South Asian country prepares to hold national elections by May.

Jharkhand police said one of their female officers was pulled out of a car Thursday and gang-raped by bandits as she escorted the body of her murdered sister to be cremated last week.

"Law and order is going to be one of the biggest election issues," said N. Bhaskara Rao, chairman of the New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies. "Angry voters want to know why the government is not able to stop these attacks. The more they keep happening, the more this issue is going to snowball."

The attacks follow a bout of national soul-searching caused by the gang rape and murder of a student in New Delhi in December that triggered national protests. Even after the enactment of new laws imposing stricter penalties for men who attack women and the setting up of fast-track courts, India is struggling to tame violent and chauvinistic male attitudes that leave women vulnerable to harassment and rape. -- Bloomberg News

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