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Effective justice delivery in POCSO cases is the need of the hour!

By Pratik Chaudhary
|
Google Oneindia News

The mother immediately went to the local police station to register an FIR but the police initially refused. Eventually, police registered an FIR against the accused and arrested him.

Recently, a 15-year-old girl from Murshidabad, a victim of child sexual abuse, has received a compensation of Rs four lakh. She is now enrolled in school and living a life of dignity.

Effective justice delivery in POCSO cases is the need of the hour!

The matter pertains to Alpana (name changed), a Class VII student, who was brought up by a single mother as her father passed away when she was young. She went to a government school and her mother worked as domestic help. One day suddenly, the mother noticed a marked change in Alpana's behaviour. She kept to herself, shut herself indoors and rarely conversed.

A few days later, an acquaintance informed the mother that he had seen Alpana along with a few other girls talking to a stranger behind the school- ground. The mother then confronted Alpana, who said that she along with some other girls were forcibly taken to nearby hotels during school hours. They were then drugged and forced to have sexual intercourse with multiple people. Also, she said that the girls were taken to different hotels every day.

The mother immediately went to the local police station to register an FIR but the police initially refused. Eventually, police registered an FIR against the accused and arrested him.

It was found that Alpana was sexually abused for around a year. The continuous sexual abuse had wreaked havoc on her mental health. Being under immense trauma, she was unable to record her statement before the court. The medical board also certified that she was not fit to record the statement.

Meanwhile, Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation's (KSCF) sister organization Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) activist met the secretary of the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) and shared the details of the case. Based on BBA's intervention, the SLSA directed the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) to look into the matter. The DLSA Secretary sent a paralegal volunteer to visit the family. A victim compensation application was then filed. Alpana finally received compensation of Rs. four lakh.

However, this is not the situation of POCSO cases as far as victim compensation is concerned. Victims have little hope for compensation as scores of cases remain pending for trial. According to April 2022 data from ministry of law and justice, more than 1.86 Lakh cases are pending, despite the establishment of 712 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) across the country. Meanwhile, over 1.22 lakh cases are pending across 399 Exclusive POCSO Courts (EPCs).

According to the recent NCRB Data, three children are raped and five children sexually abused every hour in India. The data also reveals that the pending POCSO cases stand at a staggering 95%.

To ensure victims of child sexual abuse and rape get timely justice, Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation has initiated a national campaign -Justice for every child The campaign has intervened in 4,753 POCSO cases across 70 districts. It has assisted the victims in receiving a total compensation of more than Rs 1.27 crore.

While the law mandates that the POCSO cases be completed within one year, these cases drag on for several years, causing tremendous mental trauma and agony for the victims. Unless the disconnect between the law and its implementation is bridged, victims of child sexual abuse will find it difficult to receive prompt justice and compensation. The need of the hour is an effective justice delivery system, which not only fosters the healing process but also allows the child sexual abuse victims to continue their lives with dignity and freedom.

(The writer is Director at BAPU (Bhabna Association for Peoples Upliftment)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of OneIndia and OneIndia does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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