The lawyer for three of the five men accused of raping and torturing a 23-year-old student aboard a bus in New Delhi last month said the victim and her male friend should not have been out on the streets together at night.
By Philip Caulfield / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 2:02 PM
A police van carrying five men accused of the gang rape and murder of an Indian student arrives at a court in New Delhi on Monday. The five men, along with a teenager, are accused of raping the 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus on Dec. 16. She died two weeks later.
Manohar Lal Sharma said 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey and her male friend were "wholly responsible" for the horrific torture they suffered in the Dec. 16 attack in New Delhi because they were an unmarried couple on the streets at night, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
"Until today I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady," Sharma told the newspaper.
"Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect."
His clients -- Ram Singh, the driver of the bus; his brother Mukesh Singh and Akshay Singh, who is not related -- are innocent, and will plead not guilty, he said.
SAYS HE HOPES TO GIVE COURAGE TO OTHER WOMEN
PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images
Indian protesters in a prayer meeting for the rape victim in New Delhi on Jan. 5.
Jyoti's companion, meanwhile, was guilty of failing to protect her, he said.
"The man has broken the faith of the woman," Sharma told the newspaper.
"If a man fails to protect the woman, or she has a single doubt about his failure to protect her, the woman will never go with that man."
The veteran Supreme Court lawyer's comments echoed those made by an Hindu spiritual leader earlier this week.
Asaram Bapu told followers in a sermon that the victim was as responsible as her attackers, and that she should have "chanted god's name" and "fallen at their feet" to beg for mercy.
"Guilt is not one-side" Bapu said in the sermon.
"She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop," he added.
SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images
Indian spiritual leader Asaram Bapu said a rape victim who later died of her wounds was 'as guilty' as her attackers.
Sharma and Bapu's comments disgusted many in India's growing urban middle class, who have expressed outrage at politicians and religious leaders who say that Indian women invite attacks by adopting western lifestyles.
"This is the mentality which most Indian men are suffering from unfortunately," Ranjana Kumari, director for the New Delhi-based Centre for Social Research, told The Herald.
"That is the mindset that has been perpetrating this crime because they justify it indirectly, you asked for it so it is your responsibility."
The sadistic attack occurred on Dec. 16 as Jyoti and her friend waited at a bus stop in New Delhi after seeing a movie.
PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images
Indian protesters light candles around a mannequin representing the rape victim while paying tribute during a rally on Jan. 5.
Five men and a juvenile coaxed the pair aboard a bus and then attacked them, beating the man with an iron pipe and gang-raping Jyoti over 2-1/2 hours, police said.
Both of them were then stripped and thrown off the bus, according to police.
Jyoti, a physiotherapy student who worked at a call center to pay for school, died on Dec. 29 after spending nearly two weeks in hospitals in India and Singapore.
Ram Singh, Mukesh Singh, and Akshay Singh, along with two others, Pavan Gupta and Vinay Sharma, face charges including including murder, rape, kidnapping and tampering with evidence.
If convicted, they could face the death penalty.
The juvenile will be tried separately and could face three years in a reform facility if convicted.
Sharma told The Herald that Ram Singh was having difficulty communicating between manic bouts of crying and laughter.
The other two plan to challenge the police over their handling of the evidence, which includes DNA evidence.
"This is a very complicated case and the matter has not been solved yet," he said.
With News Wire Services