The Delhi gang rape case and the verdict beg for a discussion of our system. Brief back ground if you are not aware of the case, late last year in the Capital city of India, New Delhi, a man and a woman took a private bus. The man was beaten very badly, the woman raped, beaten, put iron rods into private parts, and intestines pulled out. They both were dumped naked on the road. The girl died in the hospital two weeks later. Now one of the murderers was a 17.5 years “minor”. Recent court verdict convicted him of all counts, and gave him 3 years in Juvenile home. As he already spent 6 months in the detention center, he will be a free man in 2.5 years.
After the verdict, the mother of the victim said “By not punishing this teenager, this verdict is encouraging other teenagers to indulge in such acts and does not provide any safety to girls,”(Reuters). Victim’s father said “”No family should have a daughter if this is the fate that lies ahead for women. In this country, it is crime to be born a girl,” he said.” (AP)
Girls much worse off today: The girls are much worse off today due to the judgment than before. Just because someone is few months shy of 18 years, gets away with 3 years in a juvenile home for a heinous act, it sends a very bad message to all the boys and girls in the high schools and colleges. It sends the message that you go with your emotions, rape or kill a girl (or boy), and you can get away with minimal punishment. There is a danger that the brutality of the bullying, and eve-teasing will go up. This makes the young boys also more vulnerable, as they will be vulnerable for recruitment to perform crime on behalf of others. 17th year also becomes more dangerous as it is the “last chance” to perform borderline business, or revenge actions.
Common Law: I am sure after several studies they came up with the juvenile age of 18. But do we believe that magic happens on 18th birthday? For example, we know in several cases the adults claim insanity and get away with punishment over crimes they performed. So if 18 is such a magic number, then how can they get away? In a country where Common Law (law defined by precedence and the discretion of the judge), you are bound to have exceptions. And if the Delhi gage rape is not an exception, not sure what is.
Transfer the sentence (to who?): The wrong has happened, so someone must be accountable. If the 17.5 yr old is too young to be responsible for a brutal rape and murder, then who is the responsible for? Should the death/life sentence transfer to the other rapists, murders in the bus, as they are supposed to be mature enough, and for not stopping the 17.5 yr old? How the parents of the murder victim do get the closer for their irreversible damage?
Juvenile Age: From my personal observation, today’s kids are generally smarter and more matured than previous generations. Just the way there is a debate over the retirement age based on the increase in the life expectancy, there should be a study to understand the changes in teenagers and make needed changes to the definition of juvenile age. This is not just for the crime committed, but also for voting rights, driving privileges etc.
Irrespective of this case, the jail reforms should take place as several studies say the living conditions are inhumane. Now the perpetrator in this case is sent to the juvenile home. How confident are we that he will be back as a better man after 2.5 years?