New Delhi Needs New Ways

Diary

I have wanted to express my thoughts since reading the hyperlinked report by The Independent last week; “Women are to blame for rape,” says jailed New Delhi attacker. Yes, you did read that correctly.

Here are the facts; On 16 December 2012, 23-year-old Jyoti Singh (who had just finished her exams to become a doctor) was the victim of a brutal sexual attack on a bus in New Delhi, India. Travelling home with her male friend after seeing Life of Pi at the cinema, she was attacked by five men and a 17-year-old male. She fought back as they raped, disemboweled, bit and, eventually threw her out onto the street with her male friend. Her friend tried to save her but he was beaten with an iron rod. Two weeks later, Jyoti tragically died in hospital from her injuries after receiving extensive medical treatment.

I understand that different cultures have different beliefs and, although England still needs to improve on it, nothing can measure the gender equality problems in other cultures across the world. This, however, is no excuse for the statements made by Mukesh Singh, the driver of the bus who is serving time in jail for the attack. I cannot understand how any self-respecting man, no matter what his beliefs or culture, can brutally rape and effectively murder a woman who is screaming in fear and pain, actively trying to fight him off and, not feel any kind of remorse.

“You can’t clap with one hand – it takes two hands,” he said in an interview for a BBC documentary called India’s Daughter which outlines what happened that day (which has now been banned from airing in India). Yes, he is implying that rape takes “two to tango”. He then went on to suggest “A decent girl won’t roam around at night” and, that “A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy… about 20% of girls are good.” If we’re talking about what’s decent and good, I for one, think a decent man wouldn’t rape a woman and, any man who thinks it’s alright to rape a woman because she is out at night is not a good man. How on earth an innocent victim can be “more responsible” for rape than the perpetrator is beyond me.

Jyoti fought back at her attackers, of course, like anybody else would do in the same situation, right? But Mukesh thinks otherwise;

“She should just be silent and allow the rape,” he said. “They would have dropped her off after ‘doing her’ and only hit the boy. The 15 or 20 minutes of the incident, I was driving the bus. The girl was screaming, ‘Help me, help me.'”

But, tragically, Mukesh didn’t help. Jyoti’s friend was badly injured, but did recover so was able to testify in court. Instead Mukesh turned off the bus lights and joined in with the attack.

Thanks to horrific events like this one, New Dehli is known as the rape capital of the country. In India, a rape occurs every 20 minutes, a figure that’s difficult to comprehend. But it’s not just overseas. In England and Wales, 85,000 women are raped every year. Coupled with the repulsive numbers, the blame for rapes often lies with victims here too. Recent statistics from the Office for National Statistics showed 34% of 16-19 year olds believed a victim’s drunkenness made them either “completely”, “mostly” or “a little” responsible for the assault, along with nearly 46% who said the same about a victim who’d been flirting with her attacker. Those results should say, “100% not responsible”. Because the victim is never to blame, regardless of how much they’ve had to drink, or what they’re wearing.

Singh claimed that executing him and the other convicted rapists will endanger future rape victims. “Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did, they will kill her,” he said. “Before, they would rape and say, ‘Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.’ Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl”. Now, I’m no expert, but they did kill her. She may not have died then and there at the scene of this horrific crime, but what exactly did they think disemboweling and, raping her with an iron pole, then leaving her on the side of the road was going to do to her?

It then gets worse; the two lawyers who defended the rapists in court had their say on the matter. AP Singh had previously said that if his sister or daughter “disgraced herself” by being seen with a man, he would take her “to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight”.

Another defense lawyer in the case, ML Sharma, said: “In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6.30 or 7.30 or 8.30 in the evening with any unknown person…You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn’t have any place in our society. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”

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