Convicted New Delhi Rape Perpetrator Blames Victim

NEW DELHI — In the months after the death of a young woman who was brutalized and gang-raped on a moving bus in New Delhi in 2012, thousands of politicians, activists and ordinary citizens crowded India’s airwaves and its public spaces to say their piece about the crime.

But there was no comment from the six slight, ordinary-looking men accused of her murder. Whisked in and out of the courtroom past shouting crowds of journalists, they listened impassively to testimony and offered monosyllabic answers on the stand. Courtroom guards said they hummed Bollywood tunes under their breath. Their opinions were anyone’s guess.

Now, one of the men on death row for the crime, Mukesh Singh, has told a British filmmaker that the young woman invited the rape because she was out too late at night and that she would have lived if she had submitted to the assault.

“You can’t clap with one hand,” said Mr. Singh, who was convicted of rape and murder, though he denied taking part in the assault. “It takes two hands. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 percent of girls are good.”

 Mukesh Singh, Credit Associated Press

The comments, released as part of a publicity campaign for the film, called “India’s Daughter,” were met with outrage in India, in part over why the filmmaker, Leslee Udwin, had been permitted to interview the defendant in jail.

After complaints by the home minister, an Indian court issued a restraining order, stating that Mr. Singh’s interview created “an atmosphere of fear and tension with the possibility of public outcry and law and order situation.” The order said the film violated four Indian statutes, including one against “intent to cause alarm in the public” and another banning acts “intended to outrage the modesty of a woman.”

Ms. Udwin said the order amounted to a ban.

“That means they have banned a film which is in the public interest without having seen it, without having requested a copy of it,” she said. The film will be distributed through social media, she added.

“No intelligent person can watch this film and not understand that these remarks are not being promulgated,” she said.

The woman, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, had been to see “Life of Pi” with a male friend, and they boarded the private bus without realizing that it was off duty and that the six men aboard had been driving the streets in search of a victim. After knocking her friend unconscious, they took the woman to the back of the bus and raped her, then damaged her internal organs with an iron rod. An hour later, they dumped the pair on the roadside, bleeding and naked. The woman died two weeks later of her injuries.

In the interview, for a film that will air Sunday on the BBC, Mr. Singh said the woman had provoked the deadly assault by resisting the rape.

“When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back,” he told the filmmaker, Ms. Udwin, according to a transcript provided by the BBC. “She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her,’ and only hit the boy.”

In footage from the film, Mr. Singh tonelessly narrates the assault, saying that he heard the woman screaming for help but that his brother instructed him to keep driving as they “dragged her to the back” and “went turn by turn.” Afterward, he said, he saw the youngest of the assailants, who was 17 at the time of the crime, withdraw something from her body.

“It was her intestines,” Mr. Singh said. “He said: ‘She’s dead. Throw her out quickly.’ ”

He called the killing “an accident.”

Ms. Udwin, at a news conference in New Delhi, said the film crew had interviewed Mr. Singh for 16 hours and had seen no sign of remorse. “He is almost like a robot,” she said.

According to police records, the men divided the pair’s possessions: Mr. Singh took one cellphone, and Vinay Sharma, 20, took the other. Pawan Gupta took the man’s watch and 1,000 rupees in cash, a little less than $20. Akshay Kumar Singh took the woman’s rings. The juvenile was given a bank card and some cash.

Months before the trial, Mr. Singh’s brother, Ram Singh, hanged himself with his bedsheet in his prison cell. The juvenile defendant, whose identity has not been made public in accordance with Indian law, was sentenced to three years in a detention center, the heaviest sentence possible in India’s juvenile justice system. The remaining four men pleaded not guilty; they are appealing their death sentences.

Mr. Singh told the filmmaker that he believed the harsh sentences, instead of acting as a deterrent, would drive more rapists to kill their victims. “Before, they would rape and say: ‘Leave her alone. She won’t tell anyone,’ ” he said. “Now, when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.”


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