Horrific New Delhi gang rape: prominent religious leader blames the victim

THE fury that flared up in India and other parts of the world following the gang rape, and subsequent death of  23-year-old physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh Pandey, has been further inflamed with the outrageously insensitive words of well-known Indian “spiritual” leader Asaram  Bapu, who said the victim could have avoided the attack.

Leading Indian guru Asaram Bapu

Leading Indian guru Asaram Bapu

On Monday, according to this report, the guru Bapu said the young woman could have prevented the rape by taking guru diksha (a kind of spiritual initiation between guru and disciple) and chanting the “Saraswati Mantra” (a mantra directed at the goddess Saraswati for the purpose of acquiring knowledge, wisdom and good fortune).

India’s Cable News Network-Indian Broadcasting Network (CNN-IBN) quoted Bapu as telling a gathering of followers:

Those who were at fault [of the gang-rape] were drunk. Had she taken guru diksha and chanted the Saraswati Mantra, she would not have boarded any random bus after watching a movie with her boyfriend. Even if she did, she should have taken God’s name and asked for mercy.

Bapu, who survived a helicopter crash last August, reportedly added:

She should have called them [her rapists] brothers, fallen at their feet and pleaded for mercy. Had she said, ‘I am a weak woman, you are my brothers,’ such brutality would not have happened.

The Asian News International news agency also quoted Asaram as stating that the alleged rapists:

Are not the [only] culprits. The victim is as guilty as her rapists.

To further inflame an already raw and sensitive topic, the guri said he opposed harsher sentences against rapists because he feared such legislation would be misused.

According to this report, The BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad described Asaram Bapu’s statement as:

Regrettable, deeply disturbing and painful.

Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit added:

Such comments should be condemned as much as possible.

His party colleague Rashid Alvi said:

Political leaders, including religious leaders, must give serious thought before they speak out.

The student who was raped and assaulted with an iron rod by six men died in a Singapore hospital on December 29. She fought for her life for 13 days in hospitals first in Delhi and then Singapore. Doctors commented on her remarkable fighting spirit; her parents said she wanted to live; her boyfriend, who was with her on the bus and was also attacked , said that when the the assailants turned on him, she jumped in to protect him.

This young woman was one of many thousands who protested in India following the gang rape

This young woman was one of many thousands who protested in India following the gang rape

Spurred by huge public demonstrations, the government has promised to introduce better policing for women’s safety, and tougher anti-rape laws. It has also pledged “the severest punishment” to the men accused of murdering and raping the young woman.

The Mirror reports that five men accused of the gang rape and murder of the women appeared in court yesterday amid chaotic scenes and tight security.

Two of the suspects have offered to give evidence against their co-accused possibly in return for a lighter sentence in the case.

Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal, closed the hearing to the media and the public saying:

Keeping in view the sensitivity of this case that has risen, the proceedings including the inquiry and trial are to be held in camera.

The five suspects – named as Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur – were transferred from prison in police vans under heavy armed guard to Saket district court in New Delhi. They are due in court again on Thursday.

Two of the accused, Sharma and Gupta, moved an application on Saturday requesting they be made “approvers”, or informers, against the other accused

The prosecutor told the court he was seeking the death sentence given the “heinous” crime.

The five accused persons deserve not less than the death penalty.

The sixth member of the gang that lured the student and a male friend into the private bus is under 17 and will be tried in a separate juvenile court.

The court appearance comes as Jyoti’s grieving father Badri Singh Pandey said he wants a hospital built in her name as a lasting memorial.

Pandey, 53, spoke out after finally deciding to reveal his tragic daughter’s identity – to give strength to other victims.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that a new campaign asking Muslim men and women to speak out against domestic violence is being launched in Scotland.

The Change This campaign wants people to report any violence they have seen or experienced.

The Muslim women’s charity Amina will use Islamic teachings and an Imam to challenge the misconception that Islam allows violence against women.

The charity said it was aware of many cases where people used their religion in an attempt to justify violence.

Smina Akhtar, from Amina, said she had been shocked by the way people had manipulated the teachings of Islam.

We have women coming in, phoning our helpline, time and time again and saying: ‘My husband said it’s okay, he told me the Koran says it’s okay’. We’re quite surprised that Muslim women are often not educated, even in Islam, because Islam does not condone violence.

Hat tip: M A Chohan and BarrieJohn (Scottish report)


22 responses to “Horrific New Delhi gang rape: prominent religious leader blames the victim”

  1. remigius says:

    ‘My husband said it’s okay, he told me the Koran says it’s okay’.

    He’s right. It does.

  2. Broga says:

    They did it because they were convinced they could get away with it. That is what their culture indicates. If they are not hung, and if they are there will be no regrets from me, I hope they spend most of the rest of their lives pondering their actions.

  3. Trevor Blake says:

    The Noakhali genocide happened in 1946. How much has changed, how much has remained the same. I seem to be the first to ask in print if the rapists were Muslims.

  4. David McNerney says:

    You know what they say: “You can’t spell Asaram Bapu, without Asshole”.

  5. Daz says:

    And if she had “fallen at their feet and pleaded for mercy,” some other clueless moron would have claimed it was her fault for not fighting hard enough.

    And if she had somehow fought them off by her own efforts, yet another idiot would thank some god or other for saving her.

  6. Alistair says:

    “Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit added…”

    Dikshit??? Really???

  7. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Yet another stupid comment from a male religious leader.

  8. JohnMWhite says:

    Not surprised to see a religious leader blaming the victim, as that is what authoritarian religion does. Also not surprised to see somebody pretending their religious faith doesn’t say exactly what it says, but at least that lie is for a positive purpose.

  9. ZombieHunter says:

    these indian guru’s are as bad as if not worse than American televangelists.

    hypocritical bigoted morons who plead poverty one minute then parade around in BMWs the next

  10. Scethin says:

    Trevor Blake. I’m not 100% sure but I seem to recall that the name “Singh” indicates that the holder is a Sikh.

  11. Scethin says:

    Just done a bit more research, may the Tooth Fairy bless Wikipedia, and it seems that Singh is not exclusive to Sikhs but is very popular with them.

  12. Angela_K says:

    From a previous thread, according to our resident religious apologist Ken, all these rapists have to do is “repent their sins” and all is forgiven.

    I’ve probably said this before but take an insecure, uneducated, sexually repressed male, add religion and the result is toxic for women.

  13. Daz says:

    And therein lies the hypocrisy of Christianity. Commit any amount of barbarous acts but show repentance, and all is forgiven—off to heaven with you. Lead a good life, harming no one, but don’t believe in Jebus—you’re hellbound.

  14. Georgina says:

    Not completely off topic:
    Reading Sam Harris’s statistics on rape, I do not understand why more women are not armed. Even a few knife cuts would give you DNA to prove identity.
    Not to mention; most rapists like the fear they feel in their victims, having a gun – or even an electro-shocker – tends to discourage.

    All girls must be taught proper self-defense from about age 4.

  15. RabbitOnAStick says:

    Some years ago when in Dubai I read a court report of a rape of an 8 year old girl. The convicted rapist was not given a heavy sentence because the judge criticised and blamed the parents AND the girl – that she had dressed provocatively.

    The rapist was an imam.


  16. barriejohn says:

    “There is absolutely no connection between how women dress and being sexually assaulted,” Alia Hogben of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women said.

    She argued that though other religions from Judaism to Christianity have traditional dress codes of their own, but this never prevented assaults.

    According to a 2008 report from the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, 83% of Egyptian women had experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault at some point.

    The survey also found that 70% wore headscarves, which is an obligatory code of dress in Islam.

    “These results disprove the belief that sexual harassment is linked to the way women dress,” the report states.

    “This confirms that the stereotypical ideas of a patriarchal culture that blames women even if they are victims, is opposite to reality.”

  17. RabbitOnAStick says:


    didn’t we have a post here a few months ago from some is-slamick cretin in TehranTo saying if women didn’t dress provocatively they wouldn’t be raped or assaulted.

  18. !pop!GoesTheology says:

    I expect that most Hindus would be struck by the egotrip of this Swami. Ironically, in Hinduism the overcoming of one’s ego is central. I was surprised that he was chosen for the interview. I suspect it might have been because his statement makes it seem as if all religious peolple are fundemantalist egomaniacs. I’m not suggesting that this not the case, but I don’t think this charlatan represents the Yoga tradition. I hope he is not important in his community.

  19. Theo FfensivAtheist says:

    @Angela_K Just Women? Hyperbole wont help right now, religion is TOXIC to all humanity, by singling out a specific gender all your doing is propagating a specific POV that says Women are the only victims, most of the victims happen to be male Balkans/Iraq/Grozny & the be-headings of Journalists to name just a few. The genital mutilation of ALL male children by Islam & Judaism is also problematic. We need to find common ground if we can ever hope to beat this “Divine” madness that holds humanity in it’s thrall.

  20. Daz says:

    Theo FfensivAtheist

    It’s a fact that women are more oppressed under most religions than are men. This is not hyperbole.

  21. Angela_K says:

    Theo FfensivAtheist. My post was referring to the original piece upon which we are commenting. Of course religion is bad news for many people regardless of gender – only a foolish theocrat would suggest otherwise – but women do suffer more; that is a fact and not hyperbole. Not sure what point you are trying to make with your post; you are new here and we have covered this topic many times.