A Juvenile Justice Board in New Delhi has ruled that a sixth attacker in the fatal rape of a medical student on a bus in December was 17 at the time of the attack. As a result he will be tried in juvenile court separately from the other five alleged attackers, all of whom are over 18.

The court based their decision on elementary school certificates. Unlike in the U.S., schools place students in classes based on what the parents say the child’s age is, not on birth certificates. As a result, the school certificates are an approximation. The headmaster of the school told the BBC, “We admit a child based on what the parents tell us. We can’t really be sure of his age, but as per the school admission records, he is 17 years and six months old. He could be older than this, but I’m sure he is not younger.”

If convicted, the minor would face a maximum of three years in a juvenile facility whereas the five other accused attackers could face execution. The five adults face charges of murder, rape, and kidnapping.

On December 16th, the 23-year-old medical student and her male partner were attacked while riding a bus in New Delhi. Both were severely beaten. The woman was raped repeatedly for nearly an hour before a metal rod was pushed inside her, critically damaging her internal organs. She was transferred to a hospital in Singapore and required multiple surgeries for head and intestinal injuries. She died as a result of her injuries two weeks later.

Media Resources: BBC 1/28/2013; Wall Street Journal 1/28/2013; Feminist Newswire 1/24/2013

The Indian flag painted on cracked ground from Shutterstock