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Indian court convicts teenager in fatal gang rape of New Delhi woman

A New Delhi teenager was convicted and sentenced to three years in a juvenile correctional facility yesterday for his role in the fatal gang rape of an Indian woman last December, a brutal crime that sparked widespread domestic protests and international outrage.

In the first conviction in the case, the Juvenile Justice Board ruled that the teen, now 18, was guilty of rape and murder for his role in the Dec. 16 attack, in which six men set upon a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus and gang-raped her. She died days later from her injuries.

In an emotional scene outside the courtroom, a small group of protesters wearing black bandannas emblazoned with the words “16 December Revolution” demanded that the youth be hanged for his role in the crime, and the victim’s family decried the verdict.

“I do not accept this verdict,” said the young woman’s mother. “If three years is all that they wanted to give, why did they make us wait all this while? They could have given it earlier.”

Four other men will be tried separately for their roles in the attack. The driver of the bus, who was also involved, committed suicide in his jail cell in March.

The teen’s verdict comes in the wake of another gang rape this month – this time of a young photojournalist in Mumbai – that has refocused attention on the problem of violence against women in India, where a woman is raped every 20 minutes, according to official crime statistics.

In March, India’s Parliament passed a law mandating harsher penalties for rape and other sexual crimes against women. Yet the unprecedented outcry over the December rape does not appear to have reduced the incidence of sexual assault – seriously denting India’s image as a modernizing nation with global aspirations.

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