Raise awareness on assistance: activists

Pocso Rules provide for interim aid to meet immediate needs of affected child

Following the verdict in the Aynavaram sexual abuse case, child rights activists have stressed on the need to create more awareness about the eligibility for interim compensation under the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Rules, 2012, as well as the timely release of funds.

While a special court on Monday convicted five sexual offenders to life imprisonment, an interim compensation of ₹1.5 lakh was ordered to be awarded to the survivor and her family in consideration of the physical and mental trauma they had undergone as well as other factors surrounding the occurrence, expenses incurred towards travel and immediate expenses.

“Rule 7 of the Pocso Rules clearly states that there is an eligibility for interim compensation to meet the immediate needs of the affected child for relief and rehabilitation based on the FIR. Why was the child awarded an interim compensation only during the verdict when it should have been given much earlier?” questioned Vidya Reddy of Tulir. She said that awarding the interim compensation at the time of the verdict indicated a lack of understanding about what the Pocso Rules state and how important it is for these funds to be released early into the investigation.

In 2018, information obtained by an activist from 11 districts in the State indicated that the number of cases that have been committed to court and victims who have been awarded an interim compensation were extremely low. From November 2012 to September 2018, victims in only 47 cases received compensation.

Virgil D’Sami, Director of Arunodhaya, said that while there are several positive steps taken by the police and various departments to ensure the safety of women and children, there needs to be more awareness to guide parents or guardians of the children on how to apply for interim compensation. “In several cases where the child has been abused, the parents or guardians are unaware that they can appeal and use this compensation for their legal as well as as other expenses they might incur during the course of the investigation,” she said.

She said that they are now working to get interim compensation for a child to complete her education. “The child had to be taken away from her family and she has been admitted into a children's home. We’ve appealed for an interim compensation as financial assistance is needed to ensure that she continues her education,” she added. While the interim compensation might be needed in this case for the education of the survivor, there are several other factors the fund might be used for. This ranges from legal expenses, travel expenses or for any additional or sustained medical attention needed through the course of the case. Efforts are being taken to increase awareness about the Pocso Rules among the women police as well as about the eligibility for compensation.

"While the police or the child protection officials might be aware of the rules, there is often confusion about how to go about fulfilling the requirements needed to apply for it. Lawyers should also be well equipped to explain this to the parents or guardians," said Andrew Sesuraj, Convener of the Tamil Nadu Child Rights Watch.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 3:58:09 PM |

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