Center urges states to submit proposals under Nirbhaya Fund for critical care to POCSO victims
The Nirbhaya Fund wants to include a scheme for "critical care and support for accessing justice to rape and gang rape survivors apart from minor girls who get pregnant."
NEW DELHI: The Union Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD) has called upon States to submit proposals under the Nirbhaya Fund to provide critical care and support to victims of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence (POCSO) Act.
The Nirbhaya Fund, administered by the Ministry of Women & Child Development, wants to include a scheme for "critical care and support for accessing justice to rape and gang rape survivors apart from minor girls who get pregnant." The scheme has been appraised at a total cost of Rs 74.10 crore. The support includes shelter, food, daily necessities, safe transportation for attending court hearings, and legal aid to minor girls who have been abandoned by their families due to forced pregnancy resulting from rape, gang rape, or other reasons, and who have no other means of support.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau's data from 2021, there were 51,863 cases reported under the POCSO Act. Out of these cases, 64% (33,348) were reported under sections 3 and 5 of the Act, which dealt with penetrative sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault, respectively.
Further analysis of the data revealed that out of the total 33,348 cases reported under sections 3 and 5, 99% (33,036) were committed against girls. In many instances, these girls became pregnant and faced significant physical and mental health challenges. These challenges were further exacerbated when they were disowned or abandoned by their families or when they were orphaned.
The objectives of the scheme are twofold. First, it aims to provide integrated support and assistance to girl child victims under one roof. Second, it seeks to facilitate immediate and non-emergency access to a range of services, including education, police assistance, medical care (including maternity, neo-natal, and infant care), psychological and mental counseling, legal support, and insurance coverage for the girl child victim and her newborn. These services are intended to ensure access to justice and rehabilitation for such girl child victims.
A girl child below the age of 18 who is a victim of penetrative sexual assault (Section 3 of the POCSO Act), aggravated penetrative sexual assault (Section 5 of the POCSO Act), or sections 376, 376A-E of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) are eligible for the scheme. Additionally, if the vicim became pregnant as a result of such assault or rape and is an orphan, abandoned by her family, or choosing not to live with her family, they too can avail the scheme.
It is not mandatory for the girl child victim to possess a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) to avail the benefits under the scheme. However, the responsible individuals involved in implementing the scheme must ensure that information is provided to the police and an FIR is registered.
The procedure to be followed by Child Care Institutions (CCI) and children's homes includes designating a separate safe space for the girl child, as her needs differ from those of other children in the facility. A case worker should be appointed immediately to take care of the girl child, and separate funds should be allocated for her care and protection. Under Mission Vatsalya guidelines provisions of dedicated CCIs for POCSO Victims will also be made for proper rehabilitation and for support of POCSO victims.