The argument that no one is talking about the troubled childhood of the sixth gang rape accused, declared a juvenile (“Childhood interrupted,” Feb. 7), does not convince. At the time of committing the crime, the accused was just months away from becoming an adult. Secondly, his age has been accepted as that of a juvenile based on his school records. The pertinent question is: is rape a crime that a child would commit? If a so-called “child” is capable of committing a crime like rape, say, even when he is 12, let us amend the law to make the “child” culpable. Whether juveniles can be reformed or not is debatable. The steep rise in crime today calls for stringent, harsh laws, strictly enforced. Society demands it and will settle for no less.

True, the state has failed in protecting children and much needs to be done. But to use this to condone criminal acts by juveniles is an insult to the victims. Was it the gang rape victim’s fault that the “child” had a deprived childhood? Are poverty and deprivation an open licence to break the law?

Deshabhimani Rao, Bangalore

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