Child rights activists have pressed for a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for the juvenile who has been held guilty of the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in December last year.

Activists said counselling and vocational training should be offered to the juvenile delinquent. They called the verdict “an important step towards working for the rehabilitation of the juvenile”.

Save the Children, India, Director (Advocacy and Policy), Shireen Vakil Miller said: “The aim should be to help the juvenile re-integrate into society once he has completed his sentence. It is also very important that at all times the juvenile’s identity is protected as it could lead to him being ostracised. The juvenile accused could face threats of violence from other juveniles in the home.”

Safety

“Similarly, other children could also feel unsafe in the presence of the juvenile. It is necessary that the authorities ensure that both juvenile and other children feel safe. We hope that this juvenile will be reformed and ready to be rehabilitated back into the society after serving his sentence. Most of the youth in conflict with the law are in need of care and protection; they come from a background of neglect, abuse and deprivation. The idea is not only about punishment but also reformation,” she said.

Sanjay Gupta of non-government organisation CHETNA, which works with street children, said: “We in the child rights sector think that the verdict is a balanced one as this boy is clearly a victim of abuse and trauma that he suffered as a child. The society cannot wash its hands off the adverse circumstances that it allows a child to grow in and absolve itself from taking responsibility for his actions which are heavily influenced by his life experiences.”

“But the important question now is to see how well the boy uses this second chance to better himself and how well the rehabilitation system of the government can help him. We fear that the system that has been established for juvenile delinquents isn’t good enough to transform this boy and re-integrate him usefully with the society. But we are hopeful that something good will come out of this exercise,” he added.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, noted that every effort should be made to ensure rehabilitation and the eventual reintegration of the child as a constructive member of society.

Child rights activists want counselling and vocational training for the juvenile.