Law and Child Abuse
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
In News: The Supreme Court has directed special courts to award compensation to sexually abused children on the lines of the NALSA scheme for victims of sexual assaults and acid attacks, till the Centre finalises the rules.
- The bench took into account the fact that the Centre had not framed any rules under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act on the basis of which special courts could award compensation to minor victims, and directed that NALSA scheme be used as a guiding factor for the purpose.
- The National Legal Services Authority had framed the ‘Compensation Scheme for Women Victims or Survivors of Sexual Assault and Other Crimes-2018’, which the top court has accepted. The guidelines have come into force across the country and it would be gender neutral.
- The special courts would take into consideration the POCSO Act, which is gender neutral, as well as the circumstances of the cases while awarding interim compensation to the minor victims of sexual assaults.
- The special courts will also consider that interim compensation thus awarded was not misused or misutilised.
- Wide publicity should be given to the scheme as well as the apex court order on a regular basis till the rules are finalised.
National Legal Services Authority’s (NALSA) compensation scheme
Gives compensation slabs for victims of sexual assault, acid attacks and even loss of foetuses, and earmarks a minimum Rs 5 lakh and Rs 7 lakh respectively for women who go through a crisis after sexual or acid attacks.
- A minimum of Rs 5 lakh is to be paid in case of loss of life or gang rape and maximum of Rs 10 lakh.
- A minimum of Rs 4 lakh is to be paid in case of rape or unnatural sexual assault, with the maximum fixed at Rs 7 lakh.
- In case of victims of burning and acid attacks, the minimum compensation will be Rs 7 lakh for total disfigurement, with a maximum of Rs 8 lakh. Rs 5 lakh has been fixed in case of 50 per cent burns, while the upper limit is Rs 8 lakh.
- For loss of limb or body part resulting in 80 per cent permanent disability, Rs 2 lakh is to be given, with Rs 2 lakh in case of grievous physical injury.
- The scheme provides that in case of pregnancy on account of rape, the victim will get between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 4 lakh, while for miscarriage or loss of fertility due to such assaults, the amount will be between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh.
Why this decision – An analysis
This is a true innovation of the social justice delivery system, enforcing the law of the land in such an innovative manner to deliver waves of social justice. What therefore is important is the mindset of the judiciary, the legal prosecution system, the criminal justice system itself.
We need to understand how trained are our public prosecutors that are handling the cases under these laws, because after all, the compensation that the judge is going to award is going to be as good as the case that the public prosecutor is going to argue in the court before him.
We cannot put a price on the trauma that someone has really gone through. But at least with this kind of a compensation people will talk more about it. Earlier what was happening was in the society people were not reporting the crime – the girl was unmarried normally as the parents used to get scared of reporting thinking that maybe she may not be able to get married or what will the society think. Unfortunately, in our society, the victim is always the person who has always been blamed for one reason or the other. Now, what will happen is that atleast people will start reporting.
Awareness generation on the issue of sexuality and sexual abuse has to become a part of daily discourse in schools, as part of curriculum. We have to start talking about gender rights, equality and sexuality. We’ve got to start talking about body parts and we’ve got to look at it as not something that the person should be ashamed of.
We have to create an atmosphere where if any part of the body including a private part is hurt we actually seek out treatment. It shouldn’t be a taboo but a natural course ahead. It is a cultural change which should begin from one’s home.
We need to pay equal attention to the families of the victims because often it’s the families that are perpetrating the same mindset. There is absolutely zero communication as parents on their own will assume certain things and do certain things, not with the bad intention but with the intention to protect their child; but end up with actions that are detrimental to the child’s understanding and overall growth and development. And this inaction turns out to be very expensive for both the child and parents.
For that matter, even the online abuse of children is on the rise whether it is cyberbullying or any kind of stalking or depression symptoms –people are trying to attack the children and involve them in financial crimes inflicting psychological harm. This is a huge area of concern. There is a need to provide children with the right education on how to safeguard themselves online – what kind of games the children are playing today, are the parents able to monitor these online activity, how many parents are actually able to filter out the content or read the browsing history. We need to start conversations around these issues.