About 90 cases of rape are reported in India each day and many more go unreported because of the social stigma attached to victims
Indian police shot dead four men on Friday who were suspected of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian in the city of Hyderabad, a police official told Reuters, drawing applause from her family and citizens outraged over crimes against women.
Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent years to protest against increasing incidents of rape in the country and the slow response of police and the courts.
About 90 cases of rape are reported in India each day and many more go unreported because of the social stigma attached to victims. Court cases drag on for years and few result in convictions, legal experts say.
Some victims and their families have ended up being attacked for pursuing cases against powerful men, often local politicians.
The sister of the veterinarian praised the police for the killings, saying she was "feeling very happy for it."
"I think this will be an example and nobody will even think of doing it. And I think it's in record time, they have done this," she said.
The killings were seen as justice to the mother of a 23-year-old student who was gang-raped and murdered in New Delhi in 2012, a case that caused outrage across the country. Four men were convicted and are on death row pending appeals.
"At least one daughter has been served justice," the mother said. "I thank the police. I have been shouting for 7 years, punish the culprits even if it needs to be done by breaking laws and then see how society changes for good."
Summary justice meted out by police, especially against rapists and crooked politicians, is a recurring theme in India's Bollywood films.
Nevertheless, some commentators said the killings set a worrying precedent.
More than 32,500 cases of rape were registered with the police in 2017, about 90 a day, according to the most recent government data.
Indian courts disposed of only about 18,300 cases related to rape that year, leaving more than 127,800 cases pending at the end of 2017.
Graphic: Rape cases in India
Instances of brutal rape and violence against the women who report it has given India the dismal reputation of being one of the worst places in the world to be female. Here are some cases:
November 1973: Aruna Shanbaug, a 26-year-old nurse, is attacked by a ward attendant at a Mumbai hospital during her night shift. Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki, who was later convicted and jailed, sodomized and strangled her with a dog chain - cutting off the oxygen supply to her brain and leaving her in a coma.
Left in a vegetative state for more than 40 years, Shanbaug died in 2015.
1990: Hetal Parekh, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, is raped and murdered by Dhananjoy Chatterjee in Kolkata. Chatterjee is sentenced to death and hung in 2004, the first hanging in India in 13 years.
1995: A Jaipur court acquits five men accused of gang-raping Bhanwari Devi, a lower-caste woman who worked with the Women's Development Project in Rajasthan, in 1992.
Later, a petition is filed in the Supreme Court, which leads to the Vishaka Guidelines being put into place, to protect women against sexual harassment at the workplace.
1996: Law student Priyadarshini Mattoo is found raped and strangled in her Delhi flat. Santosh Kumar Singh, a fellow law student and son of a former senior police officer, is sentenced to death, after being initially acquitted due to a lack of evidence and then retried following a public outcry.
December 2012: A 23-year-old student is beaten and gang-raped on a moving bus in the capital New Delhi and later dies of her injuries. Five men and a juvenile are arrested - four of the men have been sentenced to death and one hanged himself during the trial. The juvenile was freed after completing three years in a reform home.
The crime sparked large-scale protests and led thousands of women across India to break their silence over sexual violence that often goes unreported. Authorities stiffened penalties against sex crimes, introduced fast-track trials in rape cases and made stalking a crime.
January 2018: An 8-year-old Muslim girl is drugged, held captive in a temple and sexually assaulted for a week before being strangled and battered to death with a stone in Kathua town in northern India.
Six men, including a Hindu priest and three police officers, were convicted of the crime. Three were given life sentences.
July 2018: Eighteen men are charged in Chennai with repeatedly raping a 12-year-old girl over a seven-month period, sedating her with drugs and then taking her to vacant apartments in the block to assault her.
October 2018: Catholic bishop Franco Mulakkal is arrested in Kerala after a nun accuses him of raping her repeatedly over two years. He has denied the charges.
July 2019: A young woman who accused Uttar Pradesh state lawmaker Kuldeep Singh Sengar of raping her in 2017 and her lawyer are critically injured in a highway collision when a truck hit the car in which they were travelling. The woman's two aunts, who were also in the car, were killed.
Sengar denies rape and any involvement in the car crash.
November 28, 2019: The charred remains of the veterinarian are found under a flyover near Hyderabad. Four men are arrested on suspicion of gang-rape and murder.
December 5, 2019: A 23-year-old rape victim is set ablaze by a gang of men, including the alleged rapist, as she made her way to court to attend a hearing in the case, in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, police said.