By Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Shyamantha Asokan
MUMBAI/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Three men were sentenced to death on Friday for two gang-rapes last year in Mumbai, including an attack on a photojournalist that sparked protests in the city and raised fresh questions about attitudes to women in the world's largest democracy.
A Mumbai court on Friday sentenced Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali and Mohammed Salim Ansari to death, the first time capital punishment has been given for rape not involving the death of the victim.
"There was no chance of reformation in these men and this sends a strong signal to society," special prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters outside the court.
Women's safety in India has been under the spotlight since the gang-rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi in 2012, which provoked nationwide protests and the introduction of tougher sexual assault laws. But a stream of high-profile attacks has raised concerns that little has changed.
In the Mumbai case, four men were convicted last week of gang-raping the photojournalist, who was attacked in the early evening of August 22 while on an assignment with a male colleague at an abandoned textile mill.
Three of them were given the death penalty because they had also been found guilty of raping another woman at the same location in July. The fourth man received a life sentence and a juvenile charged for his involvement in the case is being tried separately.
"I think the court has given a distinct, definite and welcome verdict," said Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner of police in Mumbai.
The attack on the photojournalist provoked a public outcry partly because Mumbai, India's financial capital and the home of Bollywood, is considered one of the country's safest cities for women. Mahalaxmi, the neighbourhood where the two rapes took place, is a central district close to many new offices and bars.
(Additional reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Mumbai; Editing by Tony Munroe, Sanjeev Miglani and Ron Popeski)