Lawyers Who Defended Delhi Gang Rapists Say A Woman Is A "Flower" Who Should Stay Indoors At Night
The comments appeared in a BBC documentary, aired online late on March 4, about a fatal attack on a student in 2012. India has banned the show.
A BBC documentary about the fatal December 2012 gang rape of a student who was brutally attacked on a minibus after an evening trip to the cinema in Delhi has become a huge talking point in India.
The show aired in the U.K. and online on March 4. It sparked fresh outrage in India, because it turns out that two of the lawyers who defended the rapists at trial have similar views to Mukesh Singh on how women should behave.
In the documentary, M.L. Sharma says that in Indian society "we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6.30 or 7.30 or 8.30 in the evening with any unknown person." This is a reference to the fact that the rape victim was returning home from a cinema trip with a male friend at around 8.30pm on the night of the attack.
He also says a woman is "just like a flower" and therefore "always needs protection."
One of the other defense lawyers, A.P. Singh, says women should only go out at night when "necessary" and only with relatives. He also says he stands by a 2013 interview in which he supported honour killings.
Many Indians took to Twitter to condemn the lawyers' attitudes towards women and their statements on what does or does not fit in with Indian culture.
Opinion in India remains divided on whether it was right to ban the documentary because it airs misogynistic views, or whether it is vital to hear those views in order to address and change them.
People in India were able to work around the domestic ban and watch the documentary on YouTube early on March 5, but it was taken down later in the day. Some supporters of the ban point out that violence against women is a global issue, whereas the documentary focuses wholly on India.
India's government and police obtained a court block against the film partly because of the convicted rapist's comments, and partly because they questioned whether the British filmmaker Leslee Udwin had permission to enter the jail to interview him. Udwin has responded by publishing permission letters from the Indian government. The BBC has said that, while it will obey the Indian ban, it believes the film "has a strong public interest."
Four adult men were found guilty of the student's rape and murder and sentenced to death in 2013. A teenager was also found guilty and sentenced to three years in a juvenile detention center. The four men are all appealing their sentences — Mukesh Singh says he was driving the bus during the attack but did not take part in the rape.