Govt rolls out scheme to help minor rape survivors
According to National Crime Records Bureau data, 51,863 cases were reported under the Pocso Act in 2021, and of them, 33,348 or 64% cases were of sexual assault
The Centre has approved a scheme that will provide support to minor rape survivors who have been abandoned by their family, often due to pregnancy, and have no other means to support themselves, the women and child development (WCD) ministry announced on Monday.
The “scheme for critical care and support for accessing justice to rape/gang rape survivors or minor girls who get pregnant” will provide shelter, food, safe transportation for court hearings, and legal aid, the ministry said. A fund of ₹74.1 crore has been allocated for the scheme, it added.
“Recognising the physical and emotional trauma that the minor victims of aggravated sexual assault undergoes, and in some cases, they become pregnant, we in the ministry have decided to provide medical, infrastructure and financial support to such minor victims under aegis of the Nirbhaya scheme,” women and child development minister Smriti Irani said.
“We have additionally leveraged the administrative structure of Mission Vatsalya in collaboration with state governments and child care institutions (CCIs) to actualise this support to minor victims on the ground,” she added.
This additional support will be available at child care institutions for those up to the age of 18 and thereafter up in aftercare facilities up to the age of 23, Irani said. “The government has accelerated access to justice for minor victims of rape by establishing 415 Pocso fast-track courts in the country,” the minister added.
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, 51,863 cases were reported under the Pocso Act in 2021, and of them, 33,348 or 64% cases were of sexual assault. “99% of these 33,348 cases were committed against girls and in many of these cases girls become pregnant and bear several physical and mental health concerns, which are further aggravated when they are disowned or abandoned by their own families or are orphaned,” the ministry said in a statement.
Under the scheme, immediate, emergency and non-emergency access to a range of services including access to education, police assistance, maternity, neonatal and infant care, psychological and mental counselling, legal support and insurance cover will be provided to girl child victim and her newborn under one roof to enable access to justice and rehabilitation of such girl child victims, the ministry said.
It will not be mandatory for the girl child victim to have a copy of a first information report to avail benefits under the scheme, the ministry clarified. “However, it shall be the responsibility of the persons responsible for the implementation of the scheme to ensure that information is provided to the police and FIR is registered,” it said.
CCIs will provide a separate safe space for the girls as their needs are different from other children residing in the child care institution, the ministry said. “A case worker will be immediately designated or appointed by the person-in-charge for taking care of the girl child and separate funds shall be provided to the Home for the care and protection of the girl,” it added.
In case a survivor does not want the child at any stage, the child will stay at CCIs and will be made “available for adoption”, a ministry official said. “The girl survivor will decide that for herself,” the official said, asking not to be named. The ministry is likely to release the guidelines of the scheme in the next few days, the official added.
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