‘A decent girl won’t roam at night’
New Delhi - One of the men convicted of the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus in the Indian capital in December 2012 has blamed the victim for the incident, according to the producers of a documentary film to be aired on Sunday.
The man, Mukesh Singh, is also quoted as saying that future rape victims would be at greater risk of being killed by their attackers if the death penalty was imposed on rapists.
India's Daughter, an Indo-British co-production, is scheduled to be seen on television channels in India, Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Canada to mark International Women's Day on Sunday, the film's producers said in a press release.
The film has been produced and directed by Britain's Leslee Udwin and co-produced by Indian television journalist Dibang, who uses only one name.
In the film, Mukesh Singh is quoted as saying: “A decent girl won't roam around at night. A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy.”
The 23-year-old woman was gang-raped and brutally tortured with an iron rod in a bus in India's national capital on December 16, 2012. Her male companion was also beaten and both were thrown out of the bus.
The woman, who suffered severe internal injuries, died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital. The incident sparked outrage across India and abroad.
Four men, including Singh, the driver of the bus, were given the death sentence for the crime. Their appeals against the convictions are pending before the Supreme Court. A fifth - a juvenile - was found guilty and given three years in a correctional home.
The case against a sixth accused, Ram Singh, was dropped after he was found hanged in his jail cell during the trial.
“The horrifying details of the rape had led me to expect monsters. The shock for me was discovering that the truth couldn't be further from this,” said Udwin, who interviewed the rapists over seven days in Delhi's Tihar Jail.
“These were ordinary, apparently normal and certainly unremarkable men who shared a rigid and 'learnt' set of attitudes towards women,” Udwin said.
During the interviews, Singh is also reported to have said that women should not go to discos and bars, wear “wrong clothes” or travel late at night.
He also says if the rapists are executed, life would be more dangerous for rape victims in the future.
“Now when they rape, they won't leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. 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. Death.”
Singh criticised the rape victim for having fought her attackers.
“When being raped, she shouldn't fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they'd have dropped her off after 'doing her', and only hit the boy,” Singh is quoted as saying.
Two lawyers who defended the men accused in the December case also revealed extremely conservative attitudes towards women during the interviews in the documentary.
One of them, AP Singh, confirms to Udwin that he stood by his position in an earlier interview that he would burn his daughter alive if he found she had engaged in “pre-marital activities”.
The other, ML Sharma, says: “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.”
“What I learned from these encounters, is the degree to which society itself is responsible for these men and for their actions,” Udwin said.
“These rapists are not the disease, they are the symptoms. Gender inequality is the disease.”
Attacks on women and sexual violence have been a focus of public attention since the December 2012 incident, which gave impetus to women's rights activists in India.
Stricter laws against sexual assault have been introduced and better policing and safety have been promised by the government.