Manodhairya, a scheme for providing financial assistance and support services to victims of sexual violence and acid attacks

 

Maharashtra cabinet has approved Manodhairya, a scheme for providing financial assistance and support services to victims of sexual violence and acid attacks. This is a moment of great pride and achievement for us at Majlis Legal Centre as we have been actively campaigning on the issue for the last four years.

 

The scheme provides an amount of Two Lakhs which can be extended to Three Lakhs in cases of aggravated assault. The amount will be disbursed in instalments. A survivor can access 50% of the amount as soon as she files an FIR and the balance amount on filing of the charge sheet. The outcome of the criminal trial is not a criteria for eligibility,

 

In 2010 the centre cleared a scheme for Financial Assistance and Support Services to Victims of Rape: A Scheme for Restorative Justice. The scheme provided financial assistance as well as restorative support services such as counseling, shelter, medical and legal aid. It required setting up of Criminal Injuries Relief and Rehabilitation Boards at the District, State and National level.

 

Accordingly in May 2011 the Government of Maharashtra constituted District Criminal Injuries Relief and Rehabilitation Board in all 35 districts of Maharashtra. However the funds never came as it was awaiting Planning Commission nod. Majlis Legal Centre organised several meetings with the then Law Minister, Dr. Moily as well as National Commission for Women to push the scheme forward.

 

In 2011, Majlis organised a national level consultation ‘Compensation To Women Victims of Crime’, along with the National Commission for Women to bring to fore the problems with the implementation of the scheme.

 

In the absence of financial assistance there was a need to atleast provide other support services to help the victim-survivor overcome the trauma and also negotiate the criminal justice system. Thus in 2013 Department of Women and Child Development entered into acollaboration with Majlis Legal Centre to provide Socio-Legal support to victims of sexual violence. RAHAT a pilot project was initiated in Mumbai.

 

Since funds from the centre were unduly delayed, the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Maharashtra drafted a state level scheme. The scheme met with several obstacles as we labored through various drafts. Meanwhile there were major changes in the law concerning sexual violence.  Child sexual abuse was placed under a separate  statute, acid attacks became a specific crime under IPC, etc.  Our efforts were to ensure that these changes are reflected in the proposed scheme. There was also a need to set up atransparent and easily accessible mechanism through which a survivor is able to access relief immediately, without too many technicalities and red tape.

 

After several inter-ministerial meetings for obtaining required approvals, the scheme has been approved by cabinet today  (11th September 2013).  It will be launched on 2nd October, 2013.

 

We thank Mr. Ujjwal  Uke, Principal Secretary, Department of  WCD for his support, foresight, compassionate approach and ingenuity while drafting the various clauses of the scheme.

 

We also sincerely thank our Hon’ble Minister, Women and Child Development Ms. Varsha Gaikwad, for her consistent support and perseverance in getting the scheme approved by the State Cabinet, crossing all hurdles along the way.

 

This timely news comes a day before an inter ministerial consultation has been organised by RAHAT to discuss modalities for providing ‘end to end support’ to survivors of sexual violence, using an inter-department convergence model.  The meeting will be presided by the Hon’ble Minister, WCD and will be attended by high level officials from all concerned ministries –  Home,  Public  Health, Law and Judiciary, Director of Prosecution, Commissioner of Police, Municipal Commissioner Brihanmumbai,  Collector of Mumbai, among others.