Protestors in New Delhi hold a vigil after a woman was raped in February. Rajat Gupta/EPA
A ten-year-old girl was recently denied an abortion by the Supreme Court of India. She was a victim of rape, which she alleges was perpetrated by her uncle several times over a period of seven months. Her pregnancy was discovered after she complained of stomach ache and was taken to the hospital, but in late July the court decided it was too late in the pregnancy for her to have an abortion.
Such cases of sexual violence in India have been a key topic of discussion since the brutal gang rape of a student on a bus in Delhi made headlines around the world in 2012. Popularly referred to as Nirbhaya (meaning “fearless one” in Hindi), the victim didn’t survive her internal injuries caused during the attack. In May 2017, India’s Supreme Court upheld the verdict of capital punishment for the four men convicted of rape in this case.
Following this incident in December 2012, I got the opportunity to conduct research in Tihar Central Jail at New Delhi which later developed into my PhD research. As one of the first studies to take into account the perspectives of convicted rapists in India, my aim was to understand the attitudes these men have towards their victims and how this thinking contributes to the endemic sexual violence that women experience in the country.
Over the course of the last three years, I have been able to talk with more than 100 convicted sex offenders. There is one particular story – participant 49 – that I have decided to share.