In one of the most shocking and violent incidents in the news today, the lawyer representing three of the six men who gang raped and murdered a medical student in India told media that the horrific incident was the victim's fault.
Manohar Lal Sharma said his three clients will plead not guilty when they make their court appearance tomorrow because he has never heard of a "respected lady" being raped in New Delhi, India.
Sharma said the male companion of the murdered 23-year-old was "wholly responsible" for the incident, as the unmarried couple should not have been on the streets at night.
"Until today I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady," Sharma said in an interview at a cafe outside the Supreme Court in India's capital. "Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect."
His comments come as Indians and other nations have reacted with outrage at the opinions and outlook of rape and violence against women in the country. Politicians and a religious preacher have also suggested that westernized women are to blame for inviting sexual assaults.
Just this week, spiritual guru Asharam sparked outrage when he said the victim was equally responsible for the crime.
"[She should have] chanted God's name and fallen at the feet of the attackers" to stop the assault."
This attitude isn't new. Activists say that sex crimes and police investigations of rape are hindered because of the conservative, traditional views in India, especially if the victim is known not to follow tradition.
"This is the mentality which most Indian men are suffering from unfortunately," said Ranjana Kumari, director for the New Delhi-based Centre for Social Research. "That is the mindset that has been perpetrating this crime because they justify it indirectly, you asked for it so it is your responsibility."
The incident, which has sparked a number of protests across Delhi, began on Dec. 16, when a man and the woman victim boarded a bus, which turned out to be a trap. Speaking with the Zee News television channel, the man told reporters how he was lured onto the bus as he and the woman returned home from a movie theater.
The six men aboard the bus, "which had tinted windows and curtains, had laid a trap for us," he told the channel. "They beat us up, hit us with an iron rod, snatched our clothes and belongings and threw us off the bus on a deserted stretch."
The male friend of the woman who was repeatedly raped and brutalized aboard the bus last month has recounted the two-hour attack, which ended with the couple being thrown onto the roadside, ignored by passersby and argued over by police. According to the male victim, it took police 45-minutes to respond to the crime.
The woman died in a hospital on Dec. 29 from her injuries.
Sharma contends that there are a number of discrepancies in the police version of the events, which he plans to reveal in court tomorrow. He criticized the lawyers of the local district association who have said no advocates should represent the accused.
One of the accused is said to be a juvenile and will appear before a separate judicial panel. The other five will be tried for abduction, rape and murder, among other charges.
The victim's father spoke out after her death, calling for justice and new legislation for sex crimes.
"We want the world to know her real name," the woman's father told Britain's Sunday People newspaper.
"My daughter didn't do anything wrong, she died while protecting herself," he added.
"I am proud of her. Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks. They will find strength from my daughter."
The victim's name has not been released because Indian authorities ban the media from doing so.
Hmm. This sounds very familiar. Like most of the rape cases in the news today, this case leaves a nation divided about rape tolerance and who is actually to blame for sexual assault against women.
At the end of the day, a crime is a crime. We hope justice will prevail.
SOURCE: Sunday Morning Herald