One of the men behind the horrific gang rape and murder of a young Delhi student in December 2012 has blamed his victim for her own death.
Mukesh Singh told a BBC documentary filmmaker that 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey was beaten to death because she had “fought back” instead of “being silent and allowing herself to be raped”.
Ms Pandey – later nicknamed “Nirbhaya” or “Brave Heart” by the Indian media – had been returning home after catching a film with a male friend when the pair were attacked inside a bus just north of Delhi.
Five men took it in turns to rape the physiotherapy student before one proceeded to insert a metal rod into her, causing what doctors later described as “unimaginably horrific” injuries.
She died days later at a hospital in Singapore where she had been flown for emergency treatment by the Indian government. Her death caused widespread revulsion around the world and sparked huge demonstrations across Delhi and other Indian cities.
In an interview from jail, Singh said: “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’, and only hit the boy.”
Singh’s interview is featured in ‘India’s Daughter’, a documentary by Leslee Udwin for the BBC 4 series Storyville and which will be broadcast on International Women’s Day on 8 March.
In court, Singh claimed that he had not raped Ms Pandey because he was driving the bus when the attack was taking place.
However, he was linked to the attack through DNA evidence and was sentenced to death along with the other four attackers.
In the interview, Singh remains unrepentant.
“You can’t clap with one hand – it takes two hands. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 per cent of girls are good.”
Singh also claimed that stricter punishments for rapists would result in more deaths for rape victims.
He argued that in future rapists would be “compelled to murder their victims” rather than letting them go “in the knowledge they will keep quiet”.
Those stricter penalties were brought in the aftermath of Ms Pandey’s death which created what Udwin calls an “Arab spring for gender equality”.
She told the Guardian: “Unprecedented numbers of ordinary men and women, day after day, faced a ferocious government crackdown that included teargas, baton charges and water cannon.
“They were protesting for my rights and the rights of all women. That gives me optimism. I can’t recall another country having done that in my lifetime.”
For India’s Daughter, Udwin spent hours interviewing a wide variety of Indian men as well as a number of convicted rapists.
She says she remains shocked by attitudes towards women in India, encapsulated by a comment made by a 34-year-old man serving ten years in jail for the rape of a five-year-old girl.
Asked by Udwin why he had ruined the life of such a young girl, he replies: “She was a beggar girl, her life was of no value”.
Storyville – India’s Daughter, BBC4, Sunday 8 March, 10pm