Skip to main site content.
Madhumita Pandey

‘Ask the source’

Woman who interviewed more than 100 rapists in India says she identified a common link

By WITW Staff on September 13, 2017

New Delhi native Madhumita Pandey, 26, has interviewed more than 100 convicted rapists over the course of three years in an attempt to understand why “these men do what they do.”

Pandey, who is pursuing her doctorate at the criminology department of Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom, said she began the project when she was just 22, some months after the infamous 2012 gang rape of a woman known as “Nirbhaya” — which means “Fearless One.”

“I thought, what prompts these men?” Pandey told The Washington Post. “What are the circumstances which produce men like this? I thought, ask the source.”

So Pandey began traveling to Delhi’s Tihar Jail, and interviewing the convicted rapists incarcerated there. In the end, Pandey said she discovered that rapists were not “monsters” but rather “ordinary” men.

“What they’ve done,” she explained, “is because of upbringing and thought process … In my experience a lot of these men don’t realize that what they’ve done is rape. They don’t understand what consent is.”

In 2015, 34,651 women in India reported being raped, according to the National Crimes Record Bureau. In recent months, a 16-year-old girl was reportedly gang raped and murdered, a 14-year-old was gang raped after being kidnapped while going to use the bathroom, and a baby died after being thrown from a rickshaw by rapists attacking her mother — among a plethora of other horrific instances of sexual violence that have been reported.

According to Pandey, India’s socially conservative attitudes toward women is a likely contributor to the country’s ongoing problem with rape.

“You ask yourself, is it just these men? Or is it the vast majority of men,” said Pandey.

Pandey also shared what she’d learned about how men responded after being convicted of rape, including the terrifying response given by a man who had raped a 5-year-old girl.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


Indian Supreme Court asked to grant abortion to 13-year-old rape victim

Kung Fu nuns strike back at rising sex attacks on women in India

Cold-blooded killing of Indian journalist fueled by culture of bigotry and intolerance