As Mumbai protestors continue their cries for justice in the aftermath of the brutal Thursday gang rape of a young photo journalist, the 22-year-old rape survivor has sent a message of courage and hope to her supporters from her hospital bed.
"Rape is not the end of life," the young woman told the Press Trust of India, adding that she hopes to return to work as soon as she can.
"I want the strictest punishment for all the accused and want to join duty as early as possible," she said.
Though traumatized, NDTV reports that the young woman has shown great courage in the face of this atrocity. Her doctors have reportedly said that she showed "great presence of mind" in seeking medical help immediately after the assault.
Mumbai police say the young woman was repeatedly raped by five men Thursday night in a deserted textile mill. The woman and a male colleague, who was tied up with a belt and beaten in the attack, had reportedly been on a magazine assignment as interns in the area when the group of men approached them, offering help to enter the abandoned building.
NDTV reports that the suspects held a broken beer bottle over the young woman's head as they took turns raping her.
Occurring mere months after a 23-year-old student died after being brutally gang-raped on a bus in New Delhi, the horrific incident has reignited protests and debate over the lack of women's safety in India.
"It is appalling that a young woman working in the heart of Mumbai was attacked in this manner," said Bob Dietz, Asia program coordinator for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, according to the AP.
Following public outcry over the December New Delhi attack, the federal government vowed to crack down on sexual violence in the country, introducing tougher laws and punishments for sexual crimes and harassment.
But now, people are asking whether these measures have been sufficient.
"[Mumbai] has this sense of security ... but these things make us feel that maybe we are not really that safe," said A. L. Sharada, director of Population First, a Mumbai-based non-proft that works on women's rights issues, according to Reuters. "Women should be able to move freely and take up work. Why should we be worrying about something bad happening to us all the time?"
Citing statistics from India's National Crime Records Bureau, CNN reports that 24,923 cases of rape were reported across the country last year.