Last year on Dec. 16, a 23-year-old medical intern in India’s capital of New Delhi was brutally raped. Her rapists penetrated her with a rod and tore her inner organs out. She died 13 days later. Before she died, she told the police to “burn them alive.”
One of the six accused rapists hanged himself in prison. The youngest accused was a juvenile and was sentenced to only three years in prison. Four others were found guilty on all counts of murder and rape and face their sentencing on Friday, Sept. 13. India has demanded their death, and the four face the possibility of hanging.
On Aug. 22, a 23-year-old photojournalist from Mumbai was gang raped by a group of five men who had allegedly preyed on 10 other women before being arrested for their heinous crimes.
The brutality and frequency of these rapes have made international headlines, tarnishing India’s reputation.
While ordinary citizens have taken to the streets to protest these savage crimes and demand justice, it is shocking to note that the people who lead them often have the worst notions about rape, not only in India, but the world over.
Here are 22 really awful things people have said about rape:
1. The 14-year-old victim was “as much in control of the situation” as her 54-year-old rapist.
— Todd Baugh, a Montana judge who sentenced a rapist to 30 days in jail
Baugh sentenced a teacher who allegedly raped his student to 30 days in prison because the student he raped was “older than her chronological age.”
2. Choose between a “promiscuous culture” and a “safe environment.”
— Satyapal Singh, Mumbai police commissioner, after the recent gang rape in Mumbai
“We have to strike a balance. On the one hand you want to have a promiscuous culture and on the other hand you want a safe and secure environment for the people.”
“Should couples be allowed to kiss in public?…Should they be allowed to indulge in all obscene things?”
3. “…the sort of fashion sense on stage that surely invites rape at worst, disrespect at least.”
— Liz Jones, Daily Mail columnist, writing about Rihanna
In a Daily Mail column about Rihanna, Jones wrote, “All these qualities pale to nothing when we know she went back to her abusive boyfriend, Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty to assaulting her in 2009; that she promotes drug-taking, drinking and the sort of fashion sense on stage that surely invites rape at worst, disrespect at least.”
4. “Won’t someone rape her, just to make her understand what victims of this terrible crime feel?”
— Dolores Valandro, Italian councillor talking about Italy’s first black minister
In response to a rape story on a website detailing “immigrant crimes,” Valandro spoke about Italy’s immigration minister, Cecile Kyenge: “Won’t someone rape her, just to make her understand what victims of this terrible crime feel? For shame!”
5. “She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky.”
— Serena Williams, world No. 1 women’s singles tennis player, on the Steubenville rape victim
From a Rolling Stone interview: “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
6. To avoid getting raped, “…young ladies should not drink too much.”
— Lai Tung-kwok, Hong Kong’s secretary for security
During a conference on increasing rapes in Hong Kong, Lai Tung-kwok said, “All of these (rape) cases happened between those who know each other. They are either friends, close friends or they just met a few hours ago. Some of these cases also involved the victims being raped after drinking quite a lot of alcohol. So I would appeal that young ladies should not drink too much.”
7. Increased military rapes are a result of the “hookup mentality” in schools.
— Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, on increased military rapes
At a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting, he noted that 20% of women report they had been sexually assaulted “before they came into the military.”
“So they come in from a society where this occurs. Some of it is the hookup mentality of junior high even and high school students now, which my children can tell you about from watching their friends and being frustrated by it.”
8. “The victim is as guilty as her rapists… She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop.”
“Only 5-6 people are not the culprits. The victim is as guilty as her rapists… She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop… This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don’t think so,” The Times of India reported Asaram Bapu saying.
“Had she recited the Saraswati mantra, she would not have boarded any bus after watching a movie with her boyfriend.”
9. Women are “equally responsible” for crimes committed against them.
— Vibha Rao, chairperson of a woman’s commission in India
“Women display their bodies and indulge in various obscene activities. Women are unaware of the kind of message [their actions] generate.”
According to her, other reasons for sexual offenses against women are ignorance of Hindu epics that teach values, proliferation of the internet, and the breakdown of joint families: “Joint family system is disintegrating and hence cultural values are not inculcated in kids.”
10. “Women should not venture out with men who are not relatives.”
— Indian politician Abu Azmi on increased incidences of rapes in India
“Women should not venture out with men who are not relatives. What is the need for roaming at night with men who are not relatives? This should be stopped. Such incidents (like the Delhi gang-rape) happen due to influence of western culture,” DNA India reported Abu Azmi saying.
“In the urban culture, where women are out with their boyfriends till late in the night skimpily dressed, rape instances are bound to be higher than in rural areas where women are mostly confined to their homes and are dressed properly.”
11. “What is happening is we have imbibed the US. We have lost all the values we had in cities.”
— Ashok Singhal, leader of VHP (World Hindu Council) on why rapes in India are increasing
“This western model is alarming. What is happening is we have imbibed the US. We have lost all the values we had in cities.”
Before the British arrived to rule India, “Virginity was preserved. But the purity has been totally disturbed (now)…we are losing it.”
12. “Where ‘Bharat’ becomes ‘India’ with the influence of western culture, these type of incidents happen.”
— Mohan Bhagwat, chief of Hindu nationalist group RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), after the Delhi gang rape
“Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. It is a dangerous trend. But such crimes won’t happen in Bharat or the rural areas of the country. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang rape or sex crimes. Where ‘Bharat’ becomes ‘India’ with the influence of western culture, these type of incidents happen. The actual Indian values and culture should be established at every stratum of society where women are treated as ‘mother.’”
13. “If consensual sex with a 16-year-old is not rape, why can’t girls be married at 16?”
— Village leaders in Haryana, India
Sube Singh Samain, village leader: “If consensual sex with a 16-year-old is not rape, why can’t girls be married at 16? I think that girls should be married at the age of 16, so that they have their husbands for their sexual needs, and don’t need to go elsewhere. This way, rapes will not occur.”
Jitender Chhatar, village leader: “Chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance, evoking an urge to indulge in acts such as rape and sex. You also know the impact of chowmein, which is a spicy food, on our body. Hence, our elders too advised to eat light and nutritious food.”
Ranvir Singh, village leader: “We should pay more attention to where our girls are going. A mobile phone is like a disease. It should be banned. We should stop our girls from wearing jeans.”
14. “Pretty women” who protest against rapes are “dented and painted.”
— Abhijit Mukherjee, Indian politician and son of India’s president
On women taking to the streets to protest against the Delhi gang rape: “This is almost like the Pink Revolution. These women who are protesting have no contact with ground reality. These pretty women, dented and painted, who come for protests are not students. I have seen them speak on television, usually women of this age are not students.”
15. “Just because the country attained independence at midnight, is it proper for women moving at midnight?”
— Indian politician Botsa Satyanarayana on the Delhi gang rape
“Just because the country attained independence at midnight, is it proper for women moving at midnight? That particular woman (the Delhi rape victim) should have applied her mind before boarding the private bus. Anyway, it was a small incident.”
16. “The rape thing” does not excuse abortions.
— John Koster, GOP House candidate
On his abortion views: “On the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s a consequence of this crime — how does that make it better? You know what I mean?”
17. Rapes are on the rise because “men and women interact with each other more freely now.”
— Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal, India
“Earlier if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded, but now everything is so open. It’s like an open market with open options.”
On news channels highlighting rape stories: “Every evening, these people have juicy discussions about one or two incidents (of rape). They are insulting the mothers and daughters of Bengal day after day.”
“Everyday rape incidents are being highlighted as if the entire state has become the land of rapists. Rape is sought to be glorified by these people. This will not be tolerated by people. I would like to say that negative journalism only destroys and it is time to champion positive journalism.”
18. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down.”
— Todd Akin, Republican representative from Missouri
In response to whether abortion is justified in cases of rape: “It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
19. “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage…”
— Chuck Winder, Republican senator from Idaho
During his comments to pass a bill that would require women to have an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion: “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”
20. Pregnant rape victims should “make the best out of a bad situation.”
— Republican Rick Santorum, 2012 United States presidential candidate
On his anti-abortion views: “I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.”
“I can’t think of anything more horrible, but nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation and I would make the argument that that is making the best.”
21. If women dress provocatively, then “rapes are not in the control of the police.”
— Dinesh Reddy, police chief of Andhra Pradesh, India
“Now, wealth has increased, corporate styles have seeped into the villages bringing in liquor and other cosmopolitan cultures. These modern women are more vulnerable to rapes.”
“When you are taking food which gives good josh [energy], you tend to be more naughty as time passes. I am giving you down-to-earth facts. Rapes are not in the control of the police … Even the villagers from coastal Andhra are wearing salwar-kameez (as against traditional dress). All these things provoke,” The Hindustan Times reported Reddy as saying.