Protesters Demand Justice After Release of Man Convicted in New Delhi Gang Rape

He served just three years because he was charged as a juvenile.
A rally in New Delhi on Dec. 20, held to protest the release of a juvenile rapist. (Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)
Dec 20, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

Three years after a fatal gang rape on a bus in New Delhi shocked the world, the youngest of the six men convicted of carrying out the assault has been released from a youth correctional facility, igniting public outcry and demonstrations across the city.

Led by the parents of Jyoti Singh, the 23-year-old student who was attacked and murdered in December 2012, protesters on Sunday urged police to keep the freed man in detainment and demanded proof that he’d been reformed, The Guardian reported.

“When will the government wake up? What kind of murder or crime against a woman will make the government see reason?” said Singh’s mother, Asha, according to local media translations reported by The Guardian. “This government wants women to suffer and die. Society will decide what to do with this government.” She was one of the scores of protesters who were detained by police along the major boulevard of Rajpath in India’s capital during the protest, days after the third anniversary of her daughter’s death.

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Unlike the other five attackers responsible for the Dec. 16, 2012, rape and murder, the unnamed man who was released on Sunday escaped a death sentence because he was a juvenile at the time of the crime. He was taken into custody by a nongovernmental organization. Under an Indian law known as the Juvenile Justice Act, three years is the maximum sentence for anyone under the age of 18, no matter the severity of the offense. A proposed amendment would provide exceptions in cases of atrocious crimes such as rape and murder, but the bill remains stalled in the upper house of the Indian parliament, according to India Today.

Nirbhaya, Hindi for “fearless,” is the name widely used in India to commemorate Singh, who has become a symbol of India’s high rates of violence against women and a rallying cry for activists demanding more legal protection and support for survivors of sexual assault. The number of reported rape cases has increased throughout the country in recent years, and yet just 28 percent of rape trials have led to convictions in 2014, according to National Crime Record Bureau data gathered by First Post.

The country’s supreme court is set to hear a challenge against the release of the 20-year-old convict on Monday at the insistence of Swati Maliwal, chair of the Delhi Commission for Women. “People of this country don’t want Nirbhaya’s rapist to walk free,” Maliwal tweeted after the protests, adding that she felt hopeful about the supreme court decision. But some government leaders expressed skepticism about any actions taken after the convict’s release. Parliament member Kalvakuntla Kavitha, for example, cited existing laws as the reason the release can’t be stopped, according to local reports. She is urging the government to pass the amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act.