India youth protest freeing of convict in gang rape
New Delhi — A man convicted as a juvenile in the fatal 2012 gang rape of a young woman aboard a moving bus in India’s capital ended his three-year term in a reform home Sunday, as angry protesters demanded that he remain in detention.
The man was short of his 18th birthday when he and five others brutally attacked the 23-year-old woman in a case that shocked India, where sexual violence against women is rampant.
Several activists and politicians have demanded that he not be released until it can be proven that he has been reformed. Scores of protesters Sunday were led by the parents of the woman who was attacked.
On Friday, the Delhi High Court rejected a petition to extend the man’s term, saying that he has served the maximum sentence allowed under the law. India’s top court is set to hear another such petition Monday.
News reports said the man was moved Sunday from the reform home where he had been kept to a new home under the care of a children’s rights group.
Police eventually broke up the protests Sunday, removing the demonstrators from central New Delhi in buses.
The December 2012 attack in the heart of New Delhi sparked outrage across India and highlighted the issue of violence against women in the country.
The woman and a male friend were returning home from seeing a movie at an upscale mall when they were tricked by the attackers into getting on the bus, which the men had taken out for a joyride.
The attackers beat the victim’s friend and took turns raping her. They penetrated her with a rod, leaving severe internal injuries that led to her death two weeks later.
Four men were convicted of rape and murder in an unusually fast trial for India’s chaotic justice system, and legal appeals against their death sentences are pending in the Supreme Court. A fifth man involved in the case died in prison.
The four adults who went to trial confessed to the attack but later retracted their confessions, saying they’d been tortured into admitting their involvement.
In response to the attack and the widespread public protests it provoked, India’s government rushed through legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalizing voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women.
The case also ignited a debate about whether minors who commit especially horrific crimes should be tried as adults.
New legislation to lower the age for young people to be tried as juveniles from 18 to 16 is currently stuck in India’s Parliament.
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