Ever since the gang rape and consequent death of the 23-year-old New Delhi student, I’ve pretty much been waiting for someone to hurl this age-old sentiment across the interwebs. Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long for someone to pull out that trusty “good girls don’t get raped” line of reasoning.
Bloomberg.com reports that Manohar Lal Sharma, the lawyer who is representing three of the men charged with rape and murder, believes that his clients will be found innocent because of “a number of problems” with the investigation. But then he has to go and throw in Classic Victim Blaming Tactic One:
“Until today I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady,” Sharma said in an interview at a cafe outside the Supreme Court in India’s capital. “Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect.”
Lal Sharma had the gall to say this in India, where women are reportedly raped every 20 minutes, inviting a wealth of problematic assumptions about what constitutes a “respected lady.” While his thoughts do provide just a glimpse into the stigma of rape in India, the notion that you could therefore sexually assault a woman who did not fit the “respected” mold is just as telling.
Ranjana Kumari, director for the New Delhi-based Centre for Social Research, describes Lal Sharma’s comments as a way of assessing rape that “most Indian men are suffering from.” Nothing new to the United States rape culture either, I might add:
“That is the mindset that has been perpetrating this crime because they justify it indirectly, you asked for it so it is your responsibility.”
Lal Sharma also added during his victim-blaming interview that the victim’s boyfriend, who was also attacked, was “wholly responsible” for her hours-long gang rape and beating. According to him, that unmarried couple should not have been roaming the streets at night, luring evil doers with their unmarried licentiousness.
Blame the time of day. Blame the fact that they weren’t married. Blame everything and everybody but the rapist.