The lawyer of three accused in the gang rape of a 23-year old medical student in New Delhi, Manohar Lal Sharma, has blamed the victim for the assault and said "respected" women don't get raped, according to Bloomberg.
Sharma is quoted saying, "Until today I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady ... Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect.”
Sharma also told Bloomberg that the victim's male companion was Afor the incident.
This follows days after self-proclaimed spiritual leader Asaram Bapu made a similar remark, arguing that the victim was as guilty as the perpetrators.
In a piece titled "Short skirts, bad stars and chow mein: why India’s women get raped", Reuters highlighted just how prevalent misogynistic attitudes are among India's political class.
Protestors have been demonstrating against the apathy on the part of politicians and the failure of authorities to protect women.
The National Crime Records Bureau of India shows that 24,206 cases of "rape" were reported in India in 2011, with a low conviction rate of 26.4 percent. This doesn't include "crime against women" which covers molestation, kidnapping, and sexual harassment, which saw 228,650 cases reported in 2011, with a conviction rate of 26.9 percent. Moreover, in a country where rape is still taboo, a large number of rapes go unreported.
Latest figures suggest that a woman is raped every 20 minutes and that rapes in Delhi are up 16 percent to 661 cases this year.
Three of the accused rapists that Sharma represents are pleading not guilty. It is unclear how the other two will plead. A sixth accused is awaiting bone-density tests that will help decide whether he will be tried in a juvenile court.
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