Even as the government scrambles to assuage angry crowds protesting against the gang-rape of a girl in New Delhi, it continues to sit on a draft scheme submitted by the National Commission for Women (NCW) in 2010 that seeks to provide financial assistance and support services to rape victims.
The scheme, which has also been circulated to the States for them to implement on their own, is bogged down in procedural confusion.
Many States are waiting for the Centre to notify it, so that a financial provision for it can be made in their annual plans.
In 1994, the Supreme Court directed NCW to evolve a “scheme so as to wipe out the tears of unfortunate victims of rape.” The court observed that it was necessary to set up a criminal injuries compensation board as rape victims frequently incurred substantial financial loss, besides suffering from mental anguish.
The Scheme for relief and rehabilitation of Victims of Rape, 2005, envisages constitution of boards headed by the district magistrate in every district of the country. Under the scheme, restorative financial relief from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh can be given to rape victims within 60 days of the registration of FIR. An interim relief of Rs. 20,000 is to be provided within 15 days.
In Haryana, which was rocked by a series of rape cases in the last few months, activists found that copies of the NCW draft scheme had been circulated to the deputy commissioners, but no financial provision had been made for it.
Well placed sources in the Ministry of Women and Child Development told The Hindu that under the Supreme Court guidelines, the States are duty bound to formulate their own schemes for relief and rehabilitation of rape victims and that the Centre’s draft scheme does not stop them from formulating their own.
On why the Centre has not taken steps to notify its scheme so far, the sources said that earlier there was no consensus in the Planning Commission on funding it. Many States did not implement the scheme as they were reluctant to fund it on their own. Now the Planning Commission has agreed to fund it for women of BPL families and single women, which means that the scheme could roll out by the end of the year.
The Ministry is also exploring the possibility of sharing the expenditure with the Centre, bearing the major cost and the States shouldering some part of it, to motivate them to adopt it.
The NCW, on the advice of a committee of secretaries, had proposed that budgetary requirements would be transferred to the States as Grants in Aid. The scheme is to be monitored by the commission.
Says Jagmati Sangwan, general secretary of the All-India Democratic Women’s Association, which has been following up on getting assistance for 20 victims of rape in Haryana from September: “We find that since most victims are poor, they are unable to continue their legal struggle or look after their medical requirements in the absence of aid.”
Women from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes do get Rs. 60,000 as there is a provision for them under the SC/ST Act, but for women from other castes who are poor, it is a dead end.
Senior officers in Haryana, who have been working to provide some succour to the victimised girls, believe that often a scheme like this is sought to be derailed using the bogey of potential misuse.
The whole system is coming in the way of relief to the women victims of social violence, they said.