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What a woman learnt from interviewing 100 convicted rapists in India

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NEW DELHI • In India, many consider them "monsters". Ms Madhumita Pandey was only 22 when she first went to Tihar Jail in New Delhi to meet and interview convicted rapists in India. Over the past three years, she has interviewed 100 of them for her doctoral thesis at the criminology department of Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom.

It all started in 2013, first as a pilot project, months after the gang-rape and murder of a woman now known as "Nirbhaya" meaning "Fearless One". The details of the case - a young medical student who was attacked on the way home with a friend after watching a movie - struck a chord in India, where according to the National Crime Records Bureau, 34,651 women reported being raped in 2015, the most recent year on record.

Nirbhaya brought thousands of Indians to the streets to protest against the widespread culture of rape and violence against women in 2012. That year, gender specialists ranked India the worst place among Group of 20 countries to be a woman, worse even than Saudi Arabia where women have to live under the supervision of a male guardian.

"Everyone was thinking the same thing," said Ms Pandey, who at the time was on the other side of the world, in England, finishing her master's. "Why do these men do what they do? We think of them as monsters, we........

© The Straits Times