Juvenile law needs a relook

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Following the story of four of Shakti Mills gang rape accused been given life sentence has once again provoked people to ask the question that should juveniles be exempted from punishments given to adults for committing the same crime in gruesome cases such as rape? Perhaps what triggered the wrath of people more was that in the Nirbhaya gangrape case, the most brutal accused was just short of six months to reach his adult age. He was lucky to escape rigorous imprisonment and was sent to juvenile home for three years. Not to mention he was the one who was the most brutal to the victim, the one who used iron rods to torment her physically.

The problem with this kind of law is that no one knows what is the actual age to treat an accused as an adult and punish him accordingly. Besides, it is wrong to say that a sixteen or a seventeen year old boy is incapable of knowing that raping someone or being brutal with them is not wrong. They don’t need to be drilled with the thought that traumatising any women is wrong. They already know it. So is it a source of strength for juveniles who know that they can get away with such brutal acts? Does the provision in our law encourage them? Data by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveals a 143% jump in rapes by minors in a decade from 2002 to 2012.

Earlier after the Nirbhaya case, there was a plea to amend the juvenile act in matters of rape and murder. Repeated pleas to judge the maturity of juveniles between the age group of sixteen to eighteen was rejected by the trial court which did not want any alterations in the juvenile act.

By doing so, are we making our country any safer for women? If a certain section of our population knows that they can get away with committing such crimes then imagine the consequences. It might just give them the license to commit such atrocities. Parents, teachers and peer groups play a huge role. One has to sensitise juveniles towards women’s issues. Teach them to respect women. Help them have a healthy relationship with their female peers. Only then will they learn to be sensitive towards them.

Make juvenile laws stricter in case of serious crimes. This will curb crimes to some extent. Let laws be more women friendly. Try and make this nation a healthy place to live in.

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