Seema Sarin
Seema Sarin campaign leader

Much to the despair and horror of Nirbhaya’s family, the juvenile in the December 16 gangrape and murder case has got away with merely 3 years detention in a correctional home for his unimaginable barbaric rape, torture and murder of the young student. The reason: he was a few months short of 18 years when he committed the crime! Great. He was the one who deliberately misled the victim and her friend into boarding the bus with every intention of raping her. He was the one who raped her twice and actually inflicted the horrific injuries with the iron rod that caused her death. And for this he gets only 3 years, of which he has already served eight months. It’s ironical that the Juvenile Justice Board should be so preoccupied with placing him in a place of safety, he who proved so dangerous himself, and the likes of whom make Delhi so dangerous!
This case has received such unprecedented publicity, that it has set the worst possible precedent for juvenile offenders. They now know without a doubt that they can get away with the most brutal crimes. And they are! A minor burnt his sister’s friend to death in Delhi because of a dispute over a dress. He is in a reformation home now. What punishment will he get? At worst, three years detention. Another minor rapes his sister-in-law. What sentence will he serve? Maximum three years in a correctional home.
There is a glaring increase in brutal crimes committed by those under 18 years in India. And yet, India is one of the few countries that still retains 18 as the age for juvenile majority. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, in the last five years, the number of juveniles arrested for murder has doubled while those booked for rape has increased by over 7.5 times! During this period, rapes by juveniles have increased by 188%, thefts and robberies by about 200% and abduction of women by 660%. In 2007, 52 juveniles were arrested for murder and 20 for rape. The numbers rose to 111 for murder and 152 for rape in 2011. It is really urgent and imperative to reduce the age of juvenile majority to 16 years for brutal crimes such as rape and murder. Again, it was the offenders in the age group of 16-18 years that used violence and started fires in their juvenile home in North Delhi to run away.
Trying the juvenile in the Nirbhaya case as an adult would send the strongest message possible to potential juvenile offenders. As of now, his example has only served to encourage other minors to commit similar crimes. In this instance, India has failed to deliver justice to Nirbhaya and her family thanks to legal loopholes. It is a shame.

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