Delhi gang rape case: ‘she deserved it’ is not a good argument

December 20, 2012

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily of Thomson Reuters)

The gang rape of a 23-year-old woman and the beating of her male friend on a moving bus in New Delhi Sunday night has produced debates about women’s rights in India and about whether the death penalty — or castration — are suitable remedies for the situation. It has not prompted, from what I can see, any speculation that the woman got what she deserved because she was dressed like a slut… until today.

For anyone who has missed the story, here’s what has happened so far, according to multiple media reports: the woman and her friend boarded the bus. They thought it was operating on a public route, but the driver and the men on board apparently were out for a joyride instead. They raped the woman, beat the pair with an iron rod, and threw them out of the bus and left them to die on the street. Police have arrested some of the men, politicians are in high dudgeon, and the woman is in the hospital. She suffered damage not only to her reproductive system, but to her intestines.

There is plenty of speculation about what it is about men’s attitude toward women in India, as well as women’s place in society there, that could produce a situation like this. One thing’s for sure, it’s not uncommon. And if you’re looking for the other view, rightly discredited in most countries, you can find it on Twitter. Many Indians reacted with horror and anger to these Tweets from @shivendraINDIA, who calls himself an assistant review officer in the Allahabad High Court (he is listed here with 342 others):

  • @saritatanwar why that gal was enjoying with her boyfriend? is it indian culture?
  • girl,who was raped in delhi, shud not have followed western culture
  • @maheepkapoor. sorry but I think that delhi gals r too modern so that delhi is becoming rape capital

In other words (and this is only my interpretation), nice girls don’t go out at night with men and get on city buses. They also should not fall pray to the West with its skimpy clothing, loose morals, premarital sex or other choices that women are allowed to decide for themselves in most countries. India, with its stated goal of equality for everyone, is supposed to be one of those places. Though it’s not a revolutionary thought, there is no excuse for raping a woman or a man, and then beating them almost to death. “She deserved it,” “she’s a whore” and “she asked for it” are not plausible explanations. I don’t mean to sound preachy, which is how I might sound to many American readers. But in India, where women on the street are routinely groped and leered at, these ideas evidently remain in circulation.

I asked @shivendraINDIA, whose name apparently is Shivendra Singh, what he does in the Allahabad High Court. I also asked him about his views on the woman in this incident. I don’t know what an assistant review officer does. I also wonder whether the court handles rape cases. He has not responded to my public inquiries on Twitter.

What I have never been able to figure out is why the conservative disapproval of these women must transform itself into a desire to attack and conquer through violence, particularly sexual violence. More mysterious to me is the reaction of @shivendraINDIA to this woman. Consider his tweets to an account in the name of Canadian ex-porn actress Sunny Leone (who is of Indian origin):

  • @SunnyLeone – hi, i m ur big fan n i m eager to meet with u. when r u visiting to india? plz do reply.
  • @SunnyLeone – what an awesome body u got! u r really a most attractive porn star in the industry.i m ur big fan
  • @SunnyLeone – where r u? i m waiting for ur reply, ur reply will be a pleasure movement for me

I’m sure.

(PS: an interaction with the bikini-clad Poonam Pandey takes a different turn…

“ur family does not object u for ur obscene appearenc?”

And when Pandey tweets: “I’m not really funny, I just earn my followers the old fashioned way: hand jobs,” Shivendra responds: @ipoonampandey hand job means?)

UPDATE: @ShivendraINDIA on Dec. 23 asked that I remove this post or at least remove his occupation and designation. “I never said that she deserved it. plz dont spoil the things. and plz remove that blog.” To be clear, the views that he wrote, as he said, are his personal views and not those of his position. He did not use the words “she deserved it.”

 (Reuters photo: A woman holds a placard during a candlelight vigil to show solidarity with a rape victim outside a hospital in New Delhi, Dec. 20, 2012. Reuters photo:Mansi Thapliyal)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

What you have written is absolutely right. Finally somebody spoke something sensible, ” Though it’s not a revolutionary thought, there is no excuse for raping a woman or a man, and then beating them almost to death.” Yes it’s a tendency among Indians to blame the woman, thinking she must have done something. Though I will not absolve west completely. I remember reading a survey conducted in Britain. According to it, majority believed that if a woman is drunk and gets raped it is her fault.

But still I have to concede that West is far ahead in their laws and are more sensitive to the issue than Indians. Indians are just waking…………..

Posted by Woman21 | Report as abusive

hey here are the links to the british survey: 369262/Women-blame-raped.html kingrapevic.htm me/ios-investigation-britains-record-on- rape-shows-shocking-new-failures-8200806 .html

But please in posting above link I do not end up justifying India’s prejudice. I do not support what has happened and what happens on Delhi roads. I share most of your views above. Thanks

Posted by Woman21 | Report as abusive

Thanks for writing!

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

The survey given in your link clearly shows 26%+4% = 30%, which is not as you describe, a “majority”.
The other links aren’t even relevant.

Furthermore, the UK readily absorbs a great many from other cultures, usually from countries where women are (by UK standards) oppressed. A significant proportion of respondents to that survey would have been from said cultures. So I can’t help but conclude that only a small proportion of native English folk would blame a drunk woman for being raped.

I suspect almost no native English persons would blame a drunk woman for being raped AS WELL AS her and her friend being beaten to an inch of their lives and suffering serious injuries too.

Posted by SteveBen | Report as abusive

Have you informed the chair at the Allahabad High Court? I don’t think a person like this should have anything to do with law and order.

Posted by UjjwalDasgupta | Report as abusive

when we say we share equal rights being a man or a woman why is this coming to the minds of people about that girl wearing revealing outfit or roaming around with her boyfriend or her friend or companion.
this means we still discriminate amongst men and women then we we say as we r democratic!!!!!
world is changing and changing for good but people who r orthodox have to pop in to state negative… i fail to understand why we say it was girl’s fault! y not those guys who have done this inhuman thing. they should be hanged to death at the India gate!

Posted by Sabhishek | Report as abusive

hi Robert,

I am pretty impressed with what you wrote.

The things in your blog are really true..

Posted by aarvii | Report as abusive

Humanity is in DANGER Wipe off these animals before they reach houses.. ashamed… there should not be any tolerence just hang them and drag them on streets

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

shame on @shivendraINDIA. will he say the same if it was her daughter/sister?????

he finds a canadian porn star attractive but a common girl who has been forced inbto these atrocities as indecent and uncultured!!!!! HELLO go n get urself checked by a psychiatrist mister….

I strongly condemn people like @shivendraINDIA and believe that such people should also be taught a lesson as they are equal culprits by having this thought and blaming women for such incidents.

Posted by ssachar | Report as abusive

Thanks for writing, SteveBen. Do you have any numbers yourself to support the claim? I don’t, but I do suspect that there are plenty of people of many cultures who would blame the woman. I’ve seen it happen among white American people right in front of me. But that’s not a study, of course…

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

I was unable to reach them by telephone.

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

Thank you! I appreciate it.

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

Culture and all are a BIG excuse. They only show the mindset of men who think of females as someone inferior to them and i think this mindset is one of the biggest reasons for so many rapes and that too so brutally.
And, talking of culture has this guy ever worn dhoti(the traditional attire for men) and other clothes.No, they wear jeans and trousers just like west but when Women do that for comfort they turn to these stupid excuses.

In short,these are failed and frustrated men who are good at nothing. Sadly, it was the poor girl who suffered.

Posted by Nityanand | Report as abusive

Dear friends,
While I condemn the rape and attack on the women I wish to point out few imp. Points for your view.
In any given society whether west or India are china around 1-5% of the population are in the wrong side of the law. This 1-5% influence around another 5% by money, peer pressure or by shaming him to commit with them. So where will you find this criminals? Not in their native place or villages. Where if they did anything wrong they will be identified very easily and punished immediately by their elders and relatives (normally). So this out casts turn up in cities likes Delhi, Chennai extra.
Also our governments for the purpose of money opens more liquor shops. And we also freely get party drugs freely because of economic liberalization. It is proven scientifically the alcohol and drugs brings out the desires and emotions.
On the other hand the highly educated girls and boys who tasted their new found freedom, and economic independences, new friendships, without the restraining hands of the elders, started to overreact it. Any person who advices them ware called old generation or backward or culture vulture and laughed at.
If we consider a different scenario if some elderly person or even a police officer asked them not to roam the city at 10 PM and reach their home as early as possible the same couple may asked them to shut his mouth and mind his own business and they know what they are doing.
This is the facts whether you like it are not:
Even young men who can who travel with two are three friends are mugged in India. Women are always getting raped wherever they are. Most rapes occur between 9 PM to 5 AM. Women mainly raped by their friends, relatives, co-workers (cohesive) and unknown persons (violent). Indian government, judiciary and police are ineffective. For media it’s another story. The so called activist jump for 2 or three days and they take up another cause. Do you know she is not the first one or going to be the lost one? What happened to the remaining 80,000 rape victims of year 2012? Why nobody is talking about them. They are silently suffering till today. They will suffer until they die. Strict laws are not going to prevent heinous crimes. We have capital punishment for murder stile people getting murdered. So it is
What the couple did wrong.

1. They say they are educated and they read newspaper every day. So they know Delhi is rape capital and even physically strong persons are attacked and robed.
2. They could have gone to a noon or evening show.
3. Atleast they could have taken a taxi.
4. At the first sign of trouble the boy friend instead of confronting 6 drunken persons should have tried to talking peacefully and tried to get down from the bus. My opinion is he shoved against them very hard and racked them in false bravado.

So dear sisters,
Whether you like it or not.
Dress sensibly. Always take some close relatives when going outside. Use your own vehicle. If getting late ask your father or brothers, to come and collect you. Dont show emotions openly. Avoid public transport at night. Don’t try to confront your eve teaser when you are outnumbered. Avoid drugs and alcohol.

I pray the almighty the same thing should never ever happens to any of you. Enjoy your life to the fullest. Don’t try to prove others are wrong. And become another statistics data.

Posted by ramids | Report as abusive

@Steve Ben:

I am surprised by your comments that no Englishmen or white would hold such views. If Indians and people of other cultural background would have held such views, believe me the article would have mentioned it. And then it would have taken a patronizing tone on how how the new migrants need to be taught, banned etc etc. Though 30% didn’t ring a bell with you, according to that article it was alarming.
My second link directly contradicts your view. It talks of juries not being sympathetic to woman. I am sure that majority of jurors are not Indians and coloured people. They are white.
And third was relevant because it quoted that only 11% will report the crime but the number is increasing as the law is being further sensitized.

And what about the comments made in US by a politician (Akin) and recently a judge (Derek G. Johnson) that a female body has a way of shutting it out! Outrageous.( though it may not blame the victim it can show how some people see such issues.)

And not to forget this link discussing a a Pennsylvania ad campaign which may adduce what I am saying. ( Do focus on the cartoon) nism/2012/09/its-just-common-sense-versu s-victim-blaming.html

And last but not least Mr Steve you people may have better laws but I assure you we are not that far behind, we are reaching there.

Posted by Woman21 | Report as abusive

Thanks for writing. I appreciate the thoughtful comment. What about the idea, however, that women and men should be able to walk about as freely as one another? And shouldn’t we be able to wear what we want? And if we don’t, is it our fault if something bad happens to us? I don’t know if blaming the victim is a sensible idea.

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

@ Steve : I must just clarify my comment on majority. When I responded to the article at that time I was just recalling the survey that I had read some years back (2-3 years). I had not hoped of getting any link to it. After posting the comment I just googled the words. And yes, I found it and also some articles, so I posted it. So that’s why the discrepancy. And since we have come to talk of attitudes I may enlighten you that Robert has only talked of some people holding such views, this article has not mentioned the street movement ( including both men and women, old and young) across India demanding change. Do one more thing for me just click on the link of ‘Shivendra Singh’ given in the above article and see how many abuses he is getting!

Posted by Woman21 | Report as abusive

OK, so the woman is guilty of dressing badly. Hardly a capital offense. What I don’t understand is, why are Indians making excuses for the murderous, and completely depraved behavior of these men? That somehow, Indian men are so simple as to not be able to control their behavior because of the clothing worn by this woman? This is not only insulting to Indian women, but it makes Indian men seem more like monkeys in the forest.

Posted by RangerDan | Report as abusive

I would like to add one point. You have picked one example of a common man from Delhi and 2 other tweeters who seemed to be females. It is many of those common men & women who caused damages to the girl. Our country is infested with these ‘common men’ and soon they may attack our sisters, wives and mothers. I am really hurt to see comments against the girl who is suffering till now. May God give her and her family the strength to stand up and join us in our fight against these evil headed pests.

Posted by VinodPathiyal | Report as abusive

The whole country is united in raising its voice against the rape crimes.. Many have suggested, increase in police patrolling, stringent punishment for the offenders such as death penalty or life imprisonment, social boycott, etc with the proposal for speedy disposal of these cases through fast track courts.

In addition to these suggestions, my effective and simple suggestion is that the rape criminals should be inflicted with permanent tattoos with the inscription ” RAPE CRIMINAL ‘. on their forehead, both sides of the cheek and on both the hands so that such criminals would die with shame throughout their life repenting their action. This tattooing would definitely deter the like minded criminals in venturing into such criminal activity..

Posted by GopinathaRao | Report as abusive

Thanks, Vinod. I appreciate the thought.

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

Im afraid people would say the same if it happens to their MOTHER !!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by NanIndian | Report as abusive

Their is no God if their might have been one, It would have been at least peace in India. India has so

many temples, mosques, churches & gurdwara , we have so many priest and mahatmas but with so many God

figured and worshipers and believers of God all that happens in India is crime,rape, scams and what not.

A horrendous crime likes this is just one that got picked but their are probably so many happening that

never surfaces. Most of the criminals come from Bihar or UP, I think we should build a border and leave

UP and Bihar not part of India and as a separate country because they will never learn or educate

themselves what is right or what is wrong. And more responsible is not just the government but mostly

all political parties have criminal faces. today on news on tv I came to know their are about 42

politicians have rape or misbehave charges. And this could possibly be one reason why government is not

acting . Any Government who cannot protect its citizens should step down. How can we go out and vote and

choose rapist/criminal for some mean reason. are you going to wake up when something like this happens

with your wife or sister or with your mother? Their is not right to free speech now I have read

government is trying to block sites that exposes criminals in government. I hope some day their can be

peace and humanity can live long and prosper

Posted by sanSanjeev | Report as abusive

This time it’s not case of “Femina in vino non curator vagina” , misinterpretation and overstepping bounds, but clear assault. How can someone be sympathetic to “homo sapiens”es who did that and blame victim is inconceivable to me.
Unfortunately, there IS the case of “clash of cultures” – i.e. people of some “traditionalist” cultures practically lose their mind when see some skin or kind of action, what is “relatively” common for (muslim) peasants for.ex. and brings a lot of problem in modern multicultural west-influenced societies. Something that is basically unthinkable to cultures where depictions of nude woman’s body is just plain pleasing aesthetically w/o heavy sexual context. But i thought that India is one of such cultures.

So only way for society is to “trim and weed” these individuals, until those remaining think with their upper head.

PS As for some women’s reaction…well, try to show traditional XIX century korean commoner woman’s dress to some rural “good christian” grandma…you’ll hear a lot. But in reality bare breast in this dress were a) practicality for breastfeeding b)sign that this _married_ woman gave birth to a son.

PS2 Ironically, backlash to actions of similar “people” in the West banned almost all child nudity in art – bringing it to “restricted pornography” area. So we also didn’t found universal and quick solution, thus reverting to older patterns.

Posted by chyron | Report as abusive

….. And you thought men and soceity blaming the woman for soemthing like this happens only in India . Sorry to burst your bubble check this out  /woman-fired-for-being-too-attractive-3 1397240.html

Posted by bishakhasen | Report as abusive

I found the bit about this Mr. Shivendra Singh, the asst. rev. offcr at Allahabad Court… You have indeed taken this hypocrite to Task in a deserving way. India gets to take the Brunt for audaciously shameful comments from such 2-faced perverts of his category.. who on 1 hand found the Delhi gangrape victim (now Nick-named Daamini.. & May she RIP) at Fault… coz she was out with a male friend in the evening? How utterly Cheap..!! On the other hand Mr. Rot-Head Singh posts such desperate lines regards Sunny Leone & Poonam Pandey..?? Ohh hahaha… Is he just gay or is he pretending to a dude..? Dammit.. i searched around on Fbook.. & found this profile that meets the details for our Crap-head..!! & i wanna go on Record here to say am sorry if this is not the same shivendra singh we talking about… here’s the Fbook link i found:!/shivendra.sin gh.330?fref=ts
Daamini.. may u RIP… & guys like shivendra.. may u never RIP..!! Amen… I rest my case for now..!!!

Posted by ROHAN_TEMPTER | Report as abusive

@ RAMID … So in short… from what u have mentioned.. should we just understand that “IF YOU CAN’T RESIST RAPE.. JUST LIE BACK & ENJOY IT”..!! How very convenient my friend. Thanks for all the Heart-felt advice about what women shud’nt be doing to avoid gettin Raped… Next time pls provide sum tips for the Rape-Happy men out there too… kindly advise them about how they can curb the urge to forcibly stick their manhoods up an unhappy, unsuspecting woman… let alone Clobber the living day lights outta her post the Rape..!! Ohh we all thank u loads… Cheers to that..!!

Posted by ROHAN_TEMPTER | Report as abusive

@RangerDan : If you know India (be it for men or women) you wouldn’t have written it. Men in cities, specially cities of northern India are worse than monkeys in the forest. They are pretty dangerous not only for women but also for men (not for rape, but for looting and coercing) and not only in the night but during day time as well, if you happen to be at wrong places. Sadly it is India. The much talked about developments are happening only in few cities of India and affect very few percentage of Indian population, among them there are some people who sometimes forget what really India is and end up subject of such incidents. What happened here is only one case among thousands of others.

I agree with what Ramids stated above. I am not resident of Delhi but I with my wife was subjected to the criminal behaviour of taxi drivers, in the presence of police officials right outside Delhi international airport. And I was helpless and had to run away with my wife. Luckily for us there was a good taxi driver not so far behind the airport entrance who rescued us.
On another occasion I was with my friend (male) in Delhi for an official visit. When we reached Delhi railway station (Nizzamuddin) we were asked to enter into one particular taxi or otherwise we are not going anywhere. There also police presence was there but they were simply spectators. That day also we pushed those guys and run with our baggage. After those incidents I never went to Delhi. I would rather pay some agents for whatever I have to get anything done from Delhi.

In short Delhi is not prettiest or safest city to be in. What is the cure for Indians in my view is not enacting and enforcing some strong laws, (which in India if the suspects are from rich and affluent families, will never even go to courts) but the cure has to be social and economic. Majority of population of India are always struggling to survive. That’s why, he when with few others together attack others for making few fast bucks by any means.

I see in many blogs Indian girls talk about being groped or fondled in public transports, if you happened to be in Bombay suburban trains at peak hours even men are groped and fondled. The groping and fondling of women mindset is seen everywhere in India. I don’t know what is driving the male attitude towards women. Probably the restrictions. For an average Indian male only entertainment is watching movie and consuming alcohol. The limitation he is surrounded with restricts him from making love even with his wife at his home. That drives him for doing such outrageous acts to woman whenever he is granted with an opportunity I believe.

Therefore it is for us, girls, boys, mothers and parents in general to take care of ourselves. India has not developed as you think or wish to be. It will take at least another two generations to see a change in the attitude.

Posted by Middleasia2004 | Report as abusive

These low IQ Indian thugs stole the bus and had no intention of stopping their night of crime with just a joyride. This unfortunate victim could’ve been any female, as I suspect they have raped and beaten females before. These vermin acted out of jealousy that the young man had a girlfriend (at all and of that high calibre) and out of anger that a young woman of that high calibre would never want anything to do with them. It is a very male reaction to: (1) destroy what one cannot have and (2) prevent any other male from having it.

Posted by timebandit | Report as abusive

@woman21, why do you insist on misrepresenting my words?

Also, from the ONS: “…say 1 in 12 people” 2275436/Rape-victims-drunk-flirtatious-b lame-say-1-12-people.html#axzz2K9Gi5dxA

This seems to be supported by the ratings of the various comments. Indeed the second most popular comment is along the lines of what I was saying: “If 1 in 12 people really believe that, then I’d be willing to bet it’s the same 1 in 12 who actually commit the crime in the first place.”

Those found guilty of rape should be castrated, chemically or with two bricks.

Posted by SteveBen | Report as abusive