Saturday, August 31, 2013

India: Update--Gang Rapist Gets 3 Years in Reform School Because He Was 17 at Time of Attack

According to and a follow-up to my numerous postings on this tragic incident, an Indian teenager, who was 17 years of age in December 2012, a participant in a gang-rape on a moving municipal bus, was found guilty of the gang-rape and eventual murder of a medical student in New Delhi, has been sentenced to a scant sentence in reform school of only three years! 

It should be noted that prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for four participants in the same crime in a separate, specially convened fast-track adult court. 

Amid demonstrations nationwide following the attack and the woman’s death, the government passed laws imposing stricter punishments for sexual assaults and the setting up of fast-track courts. 

COMMENT: Understandably, as in other crimes, rarely are tougher sentences a deterrent for sex crimes, which is why in most countries convicted felons of rape and other dastardly acts usually result in life-long prison terms.

During the two-hour assault aboard the bus, the woman was repeatedly raped before being dumped naked along with her male companion near the New Delhi International Airport.  The couple had been duped into boarding the bus, which the 17-year-old gang-rapist was driving illegally. 

Indian political leaders, including Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, and the victim’s family have been calling for tougher sentences for criminals under the age of 18 in the wake of the woman’s murder. India’s top court is currently hearing an appeal seeking a new interpretation of laws on criminal responsibility so longer sentences can be considered. 

The trial of the four other defendants charged with conspiracy to abduct the woman, sexually assault and murder her is expected to end in about a month. All of the gang-rapists have pleaded not guilty. 

In March 2013, Ram Singh, the bus driver accused of leading the group, killed himself in the capital’s biggest prison midway through his trial. Another defendant, Vinay Sharma, was left in critical condition in May after being attacked by his fellow inmates. Sharma is now out of the hospital. 

A woman was raped every 21 minutes last year in India, according to police records. Protesters took to the streets again in April 2013 demanding the resignation of New Delhi’s police chief after the rape of a 5-year-old girl in the capital. An American woman was gang-raped while hitchhiking back to her hotel in an Indian tourist town in the Himalayas. 

There have been 806 cases of rape in New Delhi in the first six months of this year, according to Deepak Mishra, special commissioner of the city's police force, up from 708 cases throughout the whole of last year.

Given the Indian government's apparent inability to protect its own citizens from forcible rape and particularly gang-rape, I strongly discourage solo women travelers from abroad in traveling alone anywhere in  India.