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Sting shows victim blaming widespread among India’s police

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Julie Tomlin
WVoN co-editor

A teenager and her mother have spoken out after a second police officer in India was caught on camera repeating claims about the girl following her gang-rape in February.

Ram Kumar Malik repeated earlier claims made by police Noida Superintendent of Police Anant Dev that she was a “habitual vodka drinker” who only complained when the boys refused to pay Rs 6,000 for sex.

He was the investigating officer in her rape by five fellow students in New Delhi’s Noida district in February.

Malik also suggested that the fact that the girl, who was raped by the men in a moving car, had a relationship with one of the accused weakened her claim. He then went on to blame her behaviour on the fact that her mother was divorced.

Speaking to journalists, the girl said: “I didn’t expect much from the police anyway, and this loose talk is only a reflection of their own petty mindset. Unfortunately for me, the same people are dealing with my case. Where does that leave me?”

Her mother said, however, that they were determined to pursue the case: “If we give up, it will only embolden them. I can’t let that happen after all we’ve been through.”

Malik’s comments echoed those of Anant Dev who in February responded to criticism of police handling of the case – not only the girl’s name, but her address was also revealed – by launching an attack against the girl.

Captured by undercover reporters from independent weekly news magazine Tehelka in a two-week undercover investigation, Malik’s repetition of the claims showed police attitudes had remained unchanged.

The investigation also revealed that victim blaming is widespread among police. Posing as research scholars, the Tehelka team spoke to more than 30 policemen at police stations in New Delhi.

Of those who were secretly filmed, 17 blamed women for wearing fashionable or revealing clothes, for having boyfriends, visiting pubs and consuming alcohol and working alongside men as the main reasons for rape.

The problem of victim blaming was highlighted last year when women took to New Delhi’s streets inspired by the ‘Slutwalk’ marches taking place around the world.

Marching under the banner of “Shameless Front” the women held banners with slogans that included “Stop Staring: This Is Not an Invitation to Rape Me” and “I Have Nothing to Be Ashamed of”.

Rape is reported to have increased by 678 per cent in India since the country began keeping statistics 30 years ago.

Despite claims that tougher policing has reduced violent crime against women in New Delhi, campaigners say sexual violence is increasing and that many cases go unreported.

Ranjana Kumari, a leading women’s rights advocate, said that the increase in sexual violence reflects a clash between the increasingly cosmopolitan city and more traditional surrounding areas:

“There is a lot of tension between the people who are traditional in their mind-set and the city that is changing so quickly,” said Ranjana Kumari, a leading women’s rights advocate.

“Men are not used to seeing so many women in the country occupying public spaces.”

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