In a truly detestable and heinous example of victim-blaming and outright misogyny, Manohar Lal Sharma, the lawyer for three of the six men charged with raping and killing 23-year-old medical student Jyoti Singh Pandey, had the audacity to say—on the record—that he’s never “seen a single incident” of a “respected lady” getting raped.
Unfortunately, as the Sydney Morning Herald points out, this kind of attitude about females is prevalent in India:
Sharma’s comments highlight frequently aired attitudes toward women in India. Activists say reporting of sex crimes and police investigations of rape are hindered by a tendency to blame the victim for not following the traditional, conservative social roles ascribed to women.
“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.”
Six men are accused of luring the woman and her male friend onto a bus in New Delhi on Dec. 16 and then brutally and repeatedly raping the woman. The man described the awful two-hour attack, telling Zee News that “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.”
Sharma says his clients will plead not guilty because of “lapses in the police investigation” and “manipulated evidence.”
Sharma also said the police’s haste to open and shut the case thanks to intense international outrage illustrates how inept they are. “We all know how police investigations are carried out in India,” he said.
It’s true that Indian police are infamously shitty when it comes to handling sexual assault cases, but the people who suffer the consequences are usually the victims, not the accused. Official statistics show a rape is reported every 20 minutes, but few rapists are ever actually brought to justice, which is why the case is being fast-tracked in the first place. Previous rush attempts have led to “imperfect” convictions that were challenged years later, so let’s hope the prosecution gets it right.