For a victim of sexual assault, the real trauma begins once she decides to report the case.
Right from making rounds of the police station and court rooms to dealing with the social stigma attached to it, a victim of sexual assault has to withstand a lot. And as if the trauma wasn’t enough, victims also have to fight tooth and nail to not only seek something as minor as counselling but also get the requisite monetary compensation.
The situation is made worse for the victim if the accused happens to be a family member, as she is often forced to remain quiet for fear of losing an earning member of the family. This is where the government’s compensation scheme comes in handy as it provides the much-needed financial support.
After the December 16 gang rape, the Delhi government had come up with a comprehensive rehabilitation programme to help victims of sexual assault and Rs.15 crore was set aside for it. However, lack of awareness and lengthy administrative process means a long wait for financial support.
Not only this, initially the victim gets only a portion of the total compensation amount with the remaining to be provided once the trial ends or is put in a fixed deposit for at least three years.
Counselling is another crucial aspect that needs to be strengthened further. Most victims require counselling in order to combat the emotional setback that they encounter because of the incident.
“Counselling is the most crucial part of dealing with cases of sexual assault. But sadly people who don’t know the basics of counselling are now doing it which may be damaging for the victim. There is no quality monitoring by the government,” said Raj Mangal Prasad of Pratidhi, an NGO that used to provide counselling to rape victims in east Delhi.
“Pratidhi was running a crisis intervention centre but abandoned the programme because the government didn’t release salary for three months. If you want skilled counsellors, you have to pay them,” Prasad added.
Days after the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman, the Delhi government had launched a 24/7 helpline 181 for women in distress. The helpline has proved very useful for women who were unsure of which agency to contact in case of distress.