Three of the six men accused of raping and murdering 23-year-old Indian physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh Pandey will plead not guilty due to "lapses in the police investigation," Reuters reports. Ugh.
Five men — a bus driver, his brother, and their cronies — have been charged with various counts of murder, rape, and abduction; the sixth says he's under 18, though investigators have yet to confirm his age and whether or not he should be tried as an adult. (If he is telling the truth about his age and is convicted, he'll go to a correctional house where he could only serve a maximum term of three years, even though sources say he was the most aggressive of the bunch and actually lured the woman and her male companion onto the bus.)
Lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma, who is representing the bus driver, his brother, and one other man, said he wants the case to go to trial.
"We are only hearing what the police are saying," he said. This is manipulated evidence. It's all on the basis of hearsay and presumption."
Sharma also said the police's haste to open and shut the case thanks to intense international outrage illustrates how inept they are. "We all know how police investigations are carried out in India," he said.
It's true that Indian police are infamously shitty when it comes to handling sexual assault cases, but the people who suffer the consequences are usually the victims, not the accused. Official statistics show a rape is reported every 20 minutes, but few rapists are ever actually brought to justice, which is why the case is being fast-tracked in the first place. Previous rush attempts have led to "imperfect" convictions that were challenged years later, so let's hope the prosecution gets it right. Especially because we know Sharma is a biased dick after he said, on the record, that respectable ladies don't get raped:
"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."
Case closed, right? Are there any underworld dons we can call to the stand? Sorry, I can't keep making jokes about this, it's too terrible. Arguing that the police fucked up is one thing, but is he really going to claim that a woman who died after being repeatedly raped and beaten for hours was asking for it?
Unsurprisingly/depressingly, Sharma's "respected ladies don't even get raped by the mafia" statement isn't an anomaly; Reuters has a horrifying and still-developing list of horrible things notable Indians have said about the tragedy. Some "highlights":
Puducherry Education Minister T Thiagarajan, on making girls in the tropical southern citywear overcoats so men won't be driven mad with lust: "The meeting resolved to introduce overcoats for girl students, operate special buses for them and ban mobile phones in schools. Our government is committed to ensuring safety of women, particularly girl students."
Chhattisgarh Home Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar: "Harm can come on a person if the stars are in adverse positions … We have no answer to this, only an astrologer can predict."
Less fast food!
Jitendar Chattar (leader of a Khap Panchayat): "To my understanding, consumption of fast food contributes to such incidents. Chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance evoking an urge to indulge in such acts."
Ban holding hands!
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee: "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."
What a mess.