No relief, Kerala lets sexual abuse victims down

A tribal woman, who was sexually abused as a minor, faced the same problem when she came to the court last week.

Published: 09th November 2022 06:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th November 2022 06:07 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: On Monday, a Pallikkal native in her 50s, who was at the fast-track court in Thiruvananthapuram to meet the prosecutor handling the case related to the sexual abuse of her two grandchildren, was worried.

It was not just the fate of the case that was making the woman, one of the witnesses, anxious. She was equally worried about how she would return home as she did not have a single penny. She could not even afford lunch.

A tribal woman, who was sexually abused as a minor, faced the same problem when she came to the court last week. In both cases, their lawyers helped them out with some money.

Such is the situation of several women who faced atrocities, or their guardians, as they wait for justice. They are struggling to survive because the state government has let them down by failing to disburse financial help under the victim compensation scheme.

Data with the Kerala Legal Services Authority (KELSA) reveals that the government owes Rs 12.92 crore to women who are victims of crimes like physical or sexual abuse, rape or trafficking. At present, 562 woman, including 443 minors who were sexually abused, are awaiting compensation. The state has also not paid interim compensation awarded by courts to 306 victims. The amount comes to around `1.79 crore.

‘Denying relief injustice to victims’

The interim compensation has to be paid within one month of the court order.A majority of abuse survivors hails from socially and economically backward societies and their fight for justice mostly revolves around the assistance given by the state.

Sources with KELSA said insufficient funds as well as limits on withdrawing the money set by the government is affecting the distribution of compensation. “When we insist, the government allocates a small amount which is not enough to pay arrears. This month, they allocated `8 lakh, which is peanuts,” said a source.

A government prosecutor who appears in Pocso cases said the compensation is the sole financial aid for victims. “It is a ray of hope for them; a silver lining. By denying them that, we are doing them gross injustice,” said the prosecutor.


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