Mumbai police formally charged five male suspects in court Thursday over the gang-rape of a young photographer in the city last month, a case that reignited anger about women's safety in India.
Four adult accused, arrested within days of the attack, appeared at the Esplanade Court in Mumbai, barefooted and looking dishevelled. One wore a T-shirt and jeans while the rest were in shirts and trousers.
They were charged with at least five offences including gang-rape, unnatural sex, illegal confinement, destruction of evidence, and conspiracy over the attack on August 22.
Charges were also filed in a juvenile court against a fifth suspect, who was under 18 at the time of the offence, Mumbai police spokesman Satyanarayan Choudhary told AFP.
The 22-year-old photographer was repeatedly raped while she was on assignment taking photos in an abandoned mill compound in central Mumbai.
A male colleague accompanying her was also beaten and tied up with a belt while she was assaulted and threatened with a broken beer bottle, police say.
After the attack, the victim reported the case at a local police station and was admitted to hospital with external and internal injuries. She was discharged within a week.
She was quoted by The Times of India as saying "rape is not the end of life" and that she wanted to return to work. Her family released a statement saying they were hopeful of the "severest of punishments" for those responsible.
The next hearing for the case, in which officials have promised swift justice, was announced for Monday.
The attack sparked outrage in the financial hub Mumbai, which has long been thought of as safer for women than the capital New Delhi, where the fatal gang-rape of a young student in December shook the nation.
The 23-year-old victim died of grievous internal injuries on December 29 after being lured on to a private bus by a gang of six following a cinema trip with her male companion, who was also beaten up.
Last week, a court convicted four adult suspects in the Delhi case and sentenced them to death, which the judge said was justified to deter other would-be rapists from attacking women.
Though the Delhi and Mumbai cases garnered widespread media attention and sparked nationwide protests, gang-rapes and brutal sexual assaults are reported daily in Indian newspapers.
Mumbai's top policeman Satyapal Singh drew anger after the attack on the photographer by suggesting that a "promiscuous culture" that allows kissing in public made the city less safe for women.
Since news of the Mumbai gang-rape emerged, police say a 19-year-old telephone operator has come forward to tell them she was raped in the same mill compound at the end of July, allegedly by three of the same suspects, and two others.
In a further dent to Mumbai's image, police arrested a school bus cleaner at the weekend on suspicion of raping a four-year-old in the vehicle on the outskirts of the city earlier this month.