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Why the State has failed to provide a quick response system for rape survivors

Thanks to lack of rules for disbursal of money from the Nirbhaya Fund, State-run programmes meant for helping rape survivors are floundering

editorials Updated: Oct 01, 2017 21:13 IST
Hindustan Times
Rape,Sexual Violence,Gender Violence
Students protest against gender violence, New Delhi, 2012(HT)

A few months after the 2012 gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student in New Delhi, the Centre had announced the constitution of the ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ for the implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing safety for women. The Fund was set up with a corpus of Rs 1,000 core and now has Rs 3,100 crore.

While money has not been a problem, disbursal has proved to be tricky due to lack of clarity in rules on how and at what stage should a state disburse compensation under fund to a rape survivor. On September 28, the Supreme Court said it will lay down guidelines for proper utilisation of the fund. Noting that there was no nodal ministry in the Centre to take feedback from states on how the money allocated is spent, a bench headed by Justice MB Lokur commented that it was an “unhappy state of affairs”. There was an absence of an integrated system of disbursal and management of money meant to compensate rape survivors, the court said.

The Centre’s affidavit to SC collated data on how much money states have spent so far under the scheme. It showed that in several instances, states had not explained why the money was disbursed even though there were no applications from survivors for compensation. For example, Meghalaya had, between 2015 and 2017, released over Rs 6 lakh from the allocation. However, it did not furnish details of the expenditure. Similarly, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Jharkhand did not give the reasons for disbursement.

Along with rules for proper disbursal of funds, there is also a need to look into the schemes that were set up under the fund. For example, the one-stop centres for providing sanctuary to women who have suffered sexual violence have been put on hold since the Centre now wants to concentrate on prevention of violence, though not many know what it means and how it will be done.

The Supreme Court is correct in saying that there has to be clarity in the rules about schemes. Alongside, the Centre must ensure that whichever programmes it comes up with, five issues have to be non-negotiable: The victims must get quick and good medical attention; she must feel safe and not face any further harassment; she must get sound legal aid; she must know what kind of compensation she is eligible for and most importantly, the FIR must be filed quickly and properly.

Rape survivors need a quick response system. Unfortunately, the State has failed provide one.

First Published: Oct 01, 2017 21:13 IST