Dr Sunitha krishnan, social activist and co-founder, prajwala
The verdict: Three years in special juvenile home for the fifth Delhi rapist, is a complete mockery of all the pain and agony suffered by the victim. Crime is a crime, whether it is a minor or a major who commits it. The impact of the crime on the victim cannot be negated or diluted by the age of the perpetrators.
Will a victim say that ‘I have been raped by a minor, so the pain is less or the humiliation was not too much?’ The basic point is, when a crime is committed, the victim needs justice. She has the right to it, for all the humiliation she has gone through, irrespective of the profile of the accused.
India does not have a victim-friendly justice system, unlike abroad. The system needs to ensure that the punishment is proportionate to the enormity of the crime, for when a person is raped or murdered a life is lost, and it cannot be revived if the accused is a minor.
The punishment should be equivalent to the victim’s trauma, and not less just because the perpetrator is a minor. My question is: Who will compensate for the injustice done to the victim? How do we create a deterrent for such horrific crimes? Our judiciary has taken no step to deter crime against women, that is why such perverted men fearlessly attack women.
In case of theft or robbery, a correctional facility can help change the mind-set of the criminal, but when it comes to dreadful life-taking crimes like murder and rape, in my view, there should be no relief.
Awarding a three-year correctional facility is nothing but a derision of the hurt and pain of the victim and the trauma her family has gone through. Also, let us not forget the whole nation that stood up for her 'in one voice'.
And, therefore, we as a community, believe that there should be zero tolerance to such crimes. The punishment should instill fear and deter the perpetrators and the message has to go out loud and clear that this will not be tolerated. I hope the judicial system is listening.
At the age of 15, the writer was gangraped by eight men. This event served as an impetus to what she does today.
Juveniles must be given chance
V. Padmavathi, chairman, child welfare committeee, RR dist.
The eagerly awaited Delhi rape case judgement has come at last. Everyone was curious about the punishment that would be meted out to the juvenile accused.
Many people have been of the opinion that the nature of the crime committed by the juvenile is so gruesome and “adult” in nature that he should be judged as an adult and not as a juvenile.
But the court, in all its wisdom, has treated the juvenile accused as a minor and given him the maximum punishment of three years in a correctional home under the Juvenile Justice Act.
I support this judgement for the following reasons:
l Each case is unique and each case must be judged on its own merits.
l The juvenile accused is a minor and below the age of 18. He has his entire life before him. Yes, his crime is unpardonable, yet one should take into consideration the fact that the crime was committed while in a group and not personally. So there must have been group pressure.
l The rest of the group being adult, the group pressure must have been that much greater. People have demanded that the age of juveniles be reduced to 16. That again would not be right as many children would be affected who may have committed minor felonies, not necessarily because they are criminals but because of circumstances.
In fact, instead of correcting them, we would be doing them, as well as our society, a great disservice because when these young adolescents are treated as adults and lodged along with hardened adult criminals, they too will become like them.
The juvenile accused in the Delhi rape case is 17 years old, just a year away from being treated as an adult. People may ask if one year will make a difference in the maturity of a human being. It is said that even six months can make a difference. Every juvenile, however big a crime he or she may have committed, should be given the opportunity to correct himself/herself.
In the present case, the juvenile accused has been remanded to a correctional home for three years and he is to be put under close supervision of an expert panel of doctors, psychiatrists etc. to monitor the changes in him.
At the end of three years, this expert panel must evaluate him to see if he is fit to be set free in society. And even after setting him free he should be under close observation for any errant behavior. If there is any recurrence of criminal behavior he should be arrested.
The juvenile accused may or may not be a threat to society. We will have to take that risk. But we cannot take away the one chance that he has of correcting himself and leading a normal life.