The lawyer representing three of the men charged with the gang-rape and murder of a medical student aboard a bus in New Delhi has blamed the woman and her male companion for the assault.
Manohar Lal Sharma said he had never heard of a "respected lady" being raped in India.
He said his clients would plead not guilty to all charges today when they make their next court appearance. His comments came as Indians reacted with outrage to the opinions of politicians and a preacher who have accused westernised women of inviting sexual assaults.
Sharma said the male companion of the murdered 23-year-old was "wholly responsible" for the incident as the unmarried couple should not have been on the streets at night.
"Until today I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady," Sharma said. "Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect."
Activists say reporting of sex crimes and police rape inquiries are hindered by a tendency to blame the victim for not following the traditional, conservative social roles ascribed to women.
"This is the mentality which most Indian men are suffering from, unfortunately," said Ranjana Kumari, of the New Delhi-based Centre for Social Research.