New Delhi: Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi today announced the setting up of a compensation fund under Nirbhaya scheme to provide financial help to children who are victims of sexual crimes.
“The money for this fund will be drawn from Nirbhaya Scheme and will be monitored directly by the Women and Child Development Ministry.” said a senior official of the ministry.
The official, however, said that a decision is yet to be taken on the total amount of money to be set aside for this scheme.
A Central Victim Compensation Fund was set up with an initial corpus of Rs 200 crore in 2015 but has not not been operating, the official said.
“I have decided to set up a POCSO victims compensation fund to provide financial help to children in such situations,” Gandhi tweeted. POCSO Act or Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act was formulated in 2012 to address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.
Centre’s decision today is in response to a letter to Gandhi drawing her attention to the plight of a three-year-old from Ahmednagar who was raped in December last year. The letter says, “the girl needs critical care. This is a very expensive treatment…Her mother is very poor, illiterate and alcoholic. If the necessary and urgent medical help is not provided, then the child will die.” The letter also exhorted the minister to “rehabilitate the child in a government home and provide good medical care.”
“You can create a POCSO fund but who will help children access these funds. We need an entire paraphernalia in place.
“While POCSO courts award compensation amount to a rape survivor, the problem is that the support persons who have to assess the compensation amount needed for a victim have not been notified by any state,” said Bharati Ali, Co-Founder and Co-Director, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.
Activists, however, also point out while different states have different victim compensation schemes, many cover rape but not sexual offences against children.
States like Odisha, Maharashtra and Delhi have amended their scheme to include POCSO cases.