Ensuring AV recording of statements of victims in sexual offence cases: Steps for the safety of women and children in India #RapeRoko Part-18

Audio-visual recording of statements of victims in sexual offence cases

  1. Despite provisions of the POCSO and directions by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, the police are not ensuring proper recording of victims’ statements in POCSO and other sexual offence cases. We understand that in many cases victims’ statements recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC and Section 26(1) of the POCSO are not being recorded verbatim. Further, statements once recorded are not being read out to the victim for confirmation, and in many cases of child sexual abuse, statements are being recorded without the presence of the child’s guardian, despite there being a clear statutory mandate to no do so under Section 157(1) (b) of Cr.P.C.[1] and Section 26(1) of POCSO.
  2. The directions issued by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Virender v. State of NCT of Delhi[2], where Gita Mittal J. directed that the following guidelines be implemented immediately:

“I. POLICE

(i). On a complaint of a cognisable offence involving a child victim being made, concerned police officer shall record the complaint promptly and accurately.

(ii). Upon receipt of a complaint or registration of FIR for any of the aforesaid offences, immediate steps shall be taken to associate a scientist from Forensic Science Laboratory or some other Laboratory or department in the investigations. The Investigating Officer shall conduct investigations on the points suggested by him also under his guidance and advice.

…        …        …

(iv). The statement of the victim shall be recorded verbatim.

(v). The officer recording the statement of the child victim should not be in police uniform.

(vi). The statement of the child victim shall be recorded at the residence of the victim or at any other place where the victim can make a statement freely without fear.

(vii). The statement should be recorded promptly without any loss of time.

(viii). The parents of the child or any other person in whom the child reposes trust and confidence will be allowed to remain present.

(ix). The Investigating Officer to ensure that at no point should the child victim come in contact with the accused.

(x) The child victim shall not be kept in the police station overnight on any pretext, whatsoever, including medical examination.

(xi). The Investigating Officer recording the statement of the child victim shall ensure that the victim is made comfortable before proceeding to record the statement and that the statement carries accurate narration of the incident covering all relevant aspects of the case.

…        …        …

 (xvi). The investigation of the cases involving sexually abused child may be investigated on a priority basis and completed preferably within ninety days of the registration of the case. The investigation shall be periodically supervised by senior officer/s.

(xvii). The Investigating Officer shall ensure that the identity of the child victim is protected from publicity.

(xviii). To ensure that the complainant or victim of crime does not remain in dark about the investigations regarding his complaint/FIR, the complainant or victim shall be kept informed about the progress of investigations. In case the complainant gives anything in writing and requests the I.O., for investigations on any particular aspect of the matter, the same shall be adverted to by the I.O. Proper entries shall be made by I.O. in case diaries in regard to the steps taken on the basis of the request made by the complainant. The complainant, however, shall not be entitled to know the confidential matters, if any, the disclosure of which may jeopardize the investigations.

…        …        …

(xxi). The material prosecution witnesses cited in any of the aforesaid offences shall be ensured safety and protection by the SHO concerned, who shall personally attend to their complaints, if any.

(xxii). Wherever possible, the IO shall ensure that the statement of the child victim is also video recorded.

  1. RECORDING OF STATEMENT BEFORE MAGISTRATE

(i). The statement of the child victim shall be recorded promptly and at the earliest by the concerned Magistrate and any adjournment shall be avoided and in case the same is unavoidable, reasons to be recorded in writing.

(ii). In the event of the child victim being in the hospital, the concerned Magistrate shall record the statement of the victim in the hospital.

(iii). To create a child friendly environment separate rooms be provided within the Court precincts where the statement of the child victim can be recorded.

(iv). The child victim shall not be separated from his/her parents/guardians nor taken out from his/her environment on the ground of “Ascertaining voluntary nature of statement” unless the parents/guardian is reported to be abusive or the Magistrate thinks it appropriate in the interest of justice.

(v). Wherever possible, the IO shall ensure that the statement of the child victim is also video recorded.

(vi). No Court shall detain a child in an institution meant for adults.

…        …        …       

  1. COURT

(i) To create a child friendly environment separate rooms be provided within the Court precincts where the statement of the child victim can be recorded.

(ii) In case of any disability of the victim or witness involving or impairing communication skills, assistance of an independent person who is in a position to relate to and communicate with such disability requires to be taken.

(iii) The trials into allegations of commission of rape must invariably be in camera. No request in this behalf is necessary.

(iv) The Committal Court shall commit such cases to the Court of Sessions preferably within fifteen days after the filing of the chargesheet.

(v). The child witness should be permitted to testify from a place in the courtroom which is other than the one normally reserved for other witnesses.

(vi) To minimise the trauma of a child victim or witness the testimony may be recorded through video conferencing or by way of a close circuit television. If this is not possible, a screen or some arrangement be made so that the victims or the child witness do not have to undergo seeing the body or face of the accused. The screen which should be used for the examination of the child witness or a victim should be effective and installed in such manner that the witness is visible to the trial judge to notice the demeanour of the witness. Single visibility mirrors may be utilised which while protecting the sensibilities of the child, shall ensure that the defendant’s right to cross examination is not impaired.

…        …        …

(xi) The court should be satisfied that the victim is not scared and is able to reveal what has happened to her when she is subjected to examination during the recording of her evidence. The court must ensure that the child is not concealing portions of the evidence for the reason that she has bashful or ashamed of what has happened to her.

(xii) It should be ensured that the victim who is appearing as a witness is at ease so as to improve upon the quality of her evidence and enable her to shed hesitancy to depose frankly so that the truth is not camouflaged on account of embarrassment at detailing the occurrence and the shame being felt by the victim.

(xvi) Unless absolutely imperative, repeated appearance of the child witness should be prevented…..”

 

  1. The Hon’ble Court’s guidelines set out above are not being complied with by the police. The GoM thus recommends that the NCTD should ensure the strict implementation of Section 157(1) of the CrPC and Section 26(4) of POCSO and should put in place measures for recording of a victim’s statement (especially where the victim is a child) by audio visual mean by magistrate and police officer. If it is recorded in audio-visual means, the child can be prevented from the trauma of repeating the statement again and again. It will also be helpful when the child turns hostile due to adverse circumstances. The statement recorded in audio visual means will be a proof of the fact that the statement made by the child was voluntary narration of facts.

[1] See Proviso to Section 157(1) CrPC:

“Provided further that in relation to an offence of rape, the recording of statement of the victim shall be conducted at the residence of the victim or in the place of her choice and as far as practicable by a woman police officer in the presence of her parents or guardian or near relatives or social worker of the locality.”

[2] Judgment of the Delhi High Court dated September 29, 2009 in Criminal Appeal No. 121 of 2009.

Installation of CCTV cameras and reduction of dark spaces: Steps for the safety of women and children in India #RapeRoko Part-16

  1. There is a need to increase the number of CCTV cameras in metros, especially in areas which report large numbers of sexual offences against women and children.
  2. To augment the existing CCTV installation project, 1 crore per MLA should be allocated to the MLA Development Fund to enable MLAs to get CCTV cameras installed in various sensitive areas of each constituency. There should be installation of CCTV cameras inside all buses to underserved or low population density areas.
  3. There is a considerable expense is involved in implementing such a massive installation and operation of CCTV cameras. It is recommended there is extensive research on pre-existing models and the reasons of their failure. CCTV alone is not the solution; acting on evidence from CCTVs through policing and prosecution is of topmost importance. While installation is inexpensive, it is the technology backend and monitoring setup that is the more expensive component of CCTV monitoring. We recognize that data harvesting and monitoring and maintenance of technology and data on a moving vehicle will be another crucial fault line, which ought to be discussed expert groups. Further, the manning, monitoring and backup of data is another crucial component. Women should feel safe and comfortable while using public transportation, should use all of its fiscal, financial and administrative powers to ensure that this objective is achieved on a priority basis.
  4. For example, a large percent of streetlights in cities do not work. Empty and unlit streets are unsafe and are responsible for the increasing number of crimes like chain snatchings, abductions and sexual assaults.  The lack of proper lighting leads to victims being unable to identify the culprit, the culprit’s vehicle details etc. dark spots also seriously hamper the effectiveness of the CCTV surveillance systems in the city. Dark unlit streets has also been listed as one of the top reasons that women felt unsafe in the city.
  5. It has also been seen that that quite often there is lack of clarity or ownership on the maintenance of streetlights. There is an immediate need for correction on such administrative issues, which have a large scale detrimental impact on state governance.
  6. Each and every road maintained in cities and states be immediately lit. If there is 100% coverage via streetlights across the city, the proportion of miscreant or anti-social activity, which currently goes unnoticed will come down. The municipal corporations should immediately identify areas where street lighting is functional, but is hampered by unchecked tree growth. Such vegetation should be immediately pruned. Further, a proposal should be taken up to switch from using halogen-based lighting systems to using LED-based lighting systems. LED-based systems have proved to use less energy, last longer, and also provide higher intensity of light on the streets.

Strengthening the capacity of forensic laboratories in NCT of Delhi: Steps for the safety of women and children in India #RapeRoko Part-15

What can State Governments do?

  1. The trials of sexual offenders suffer from long delays as DNA examination reports are not received from forensic science laboratories (‘FSLs’) in time. There is a shortage of modern equipment and personnel, delays were being faced in analysing DNA samples and making reports to the prosecution and to the concerned courts. The FSLs further reported that investigating officers were not receiving proper training in procedures of collecting DNA evidence/materials, and hence, samples received by the FSLs were often not viable for a proper analysis. The FSLs also reported that several reports which were made ready in time by the FSL were not being ‘picked up’ by the police/ investigating officers. The FSLs also report that there has been a large increase in cases which required DNA analysis (which is carried out by the Biology department of the FSL).
  2. Clearly, this is a worrying situation. We recommend the following
  • Appoint additional, qualified personnel to FSLs in each state so that pendency can be reduced and eventually disposed of. Additional Senior and Junior Scientific Officers, Scientific Assistants, and Laboratory Attendants are needed. Additional staff may be sourced from retired FSL employees, and may also be sourced on a fixed-term contract basis.
  • Modern equipment be acquired with haste to augment present FSL facilities. There are at least 38 distinct pieces of equipment which are required, including genetic analysers, micro centrifuges etc.
  • States may consider referring pending cases to private forensic laboratories on a tender basis. Such private labs should be accredited and must comply with internationally accepted standards, and must carry out examinations under the overall supervision of the Government operated FSLs.
  • Each FSL needs to put in place a system of restricting access of non-FSL personnel to the FSL facilities. CCTVs should be installed at various points in FSL premises and outsiders should ordinarily not be permitted to enter the premises beyond the reception area.
  • A proposal be discussed with the Hon’ble Chief Justice of the High Court to enable examination by trial courts of FSL officers via audio or video conferencing.
  • A proposal be considered to do away with the physical handing-over of FSL reports to the investigating officers. The GoM notes that there is no clarity as to whom is responsible for the delivery of such reports. The GoM recommends that a central electronic database of reports be created so that the FSL can upload completed reports (under verified digital signature) to this database, and which can be accessed only by the FSL, the investigating officer, and the counsel prosecuting a particular case. Certified copies of the same may be submitted as and when required by the trial court. This will reduce delays in transmission of reports from the FSL to the IO / the court, and will also ensure that there is no leakage of the reports to offenders and to members of the public. This system will also act as an aid to monitor the working of the FSLs.

Scaling campaigns like Chuppi Todo: Steps for the safety of women and children in India #RapeRoko Part-14

What can State Governments do?

Chuppi Todo campaign model

CHUPPI TODO (BREAK THE SILENCE)-CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE THROUGH EDUCATIONAL FILM

TO EDUCATE CHILDREN ABOUT SAFE AND UNSAFE TOUCH

  

Background and aims:

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is common in India with 53% children sexually abused. Moreover, the victim knows 50% of sexual offenders and boys are equally at risk as girls. With such overwhelming statistics a need for an intervention that prepared children to understand the fundamentals of touch and ways to deal with it was envisaged in the form of three educational films − “Chuppi Todo” or Break the Silence, Chup Na Raho, 3R. The hypothesis of the film are that if children understood unsafe touch they would say no to it and report it, thus, breaking the whole wheel of silence. Additionally, 30 seconds TV spots are used to encourage children to talk about CSA with the slogan “Don’t keep mum, speak to your mom”.

Method:The format of the campaign includes interaction with children about child rights, screening of the film “Chuppi Todo” on a large screen in schools and communities, followed by a discussion with child rights professionals/psychologists. The impact of the film in terms of awareness creation about CSA and how to seek help is measured through a pre and post-film questionnaire that is statistically analysed.

Result and Conclusions: 92 % students were able to distinguish between safe and unsafe touch. The recall value of child helpline number is 99%.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/video/right-to-be-heard-you-matter-show-child-protection-sanjay-singh/1/271882.html

https://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=xGwUr30hDJ8&u=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DR-_SqazxNMg%26feature%3Dshare

 

The workshop:

The session for children takes about 60 minutes. For parents it is 75 minutes. The following steps are involved for the session:

Step 1:

The Introduction:

We give introduction of chuppi todo team members

The definition of child…(in context of age )

Introduction of four rights of children

  1. a) Right to survival
  2. b) Right to protection
  3. c) Right to development
  4. d) Right to participation

Then we come to the topic of protection. Why protection is important.

 

Step 2:Pre-screening questionnaire for orientation

A questionnaire related to child sexual abuse is distributed before the screening of the film. Children are given 10 minutes to fill it. It is collected before the screening of film.

                         

Step 3: Screening of film followed by feedback questions filling:

The film “Chuppi Todo” is screened on large screen. After screening of the documentary film second written questionnaire related to Child sexual abuse is  given to children. Children will be given 10 minutes to fill it. Later the question before and after will be compared to see the impact of film on the awareness level of children.

 

Step 4: Open house for discussion

The documentary film “Chuppi Todo” is screened in community/school followed by open question answer session…they are encouraged to talk about the film first that gives child confidence to talk about any confusion related to CSA.

 

Step 5: FGD conducted if required

Up to 8 to 10 children are selected for FGD that gives proper insight into the level of abuse and understating of children related to child sexual abuse.

 

Step 6: Institution linkages

Encourage community/school to form a committee consisting of group of student and teacher to create awareness against child sexual abuse. Possible tie up with institutions related to children… local NGO, Juvenile Protection Officer, Childline, Child working committee and Juvenile Justice Board.

 

Protection and Awareness Committee

Protection Committee

Composition of Safety Net Committee
–          2 parents/community members

(parents of Children from 7th ,8th and 9th )

–          2 NGO/ School representatives
–          Lawyer to be empaneled by the NGO on need basis
–          1 Project Coordinator – Chuppi Todo team
–          Ex officeo member (CWC from Dist, SJPU Special Juvenile Police Unit, Child Line)
Meeting Periodicity
–          Once a Month (on a weekend)
Role
–          Committee will verify the case genuine or fake.

–          To connect with CWC to present cases identified

–          Counseling of family and victim if identified through Project coordinator/ identified counselor
–          Educate the Parents to take external support from existing child protection agencies and  lawyer if required
–          Involvement of Child Line in the process

 

Awareness Committee

Composition of Awareness Team
–          4 Children(2Girls and 2 Boys) , 2 volunteers, 2 Parents (rotation),

–          2 NGO/ School representatives

–          1 Project coordinator (LEAD)

Role
–          Ensure sustainability of the campaign

o   Screening of film for new children

o   Workshop occasionally

o   Nukkad Nataks

–          Focused Group Discussions

–          One on one session

Periodicity
–          Once in a month

 

 

 

 

Model Consent Letter for parents:

Dear parents,

Every day we come across news of child sexual abuse. The safety of children is paramount. The way teach our children how to cross a road, similarly let us talk to children about safe and unsafe touch. Prevention is better than cure.

 

Background and aims:

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is common in India with 53% children sexually abused. Moreover, 50% of sexual offenders are known to the victim and boys are equally at risk as girls. With such overwhelming statistics a need for an intervention that prepared children to understand the fundamentals of touch and ways to deal with it was envisaged in the form of an educational film − “Chuppi Todo” or Break the Silence. The hypothesis of the film is that if children understood unsafe touch they would say no to it and report it, thus, breaking the whole wheel of silence. Additionally, 30 seconds TV spots were used to encourage children to talk about CSA with the slogan “Don’t keep mum, speak to your mom”.

Method:

The format of the campaign includes interaction with children about child rights, screening of the film “Chuppi Todo” on a large screen in schools and communities, followed by a discussion with child rights professionals/psychologists. The impact of the film in terms of awareness creation about CSA and how to seek help is measured through a pre and post-film questionnaire that is statistically analysed.

Result and Conclusions:

92 % students were able to distinguish between safe and unsafe touch. The recall value of child helpline number is 99%.

 

As a part of our safety initiative we want our each and every child to be safe so we are planning to do a safety workshop for children by a group of child rights professionals. Please make appropriate response:

  1. Do you want your child to attend the chuppi todo workshop for children: YES/No
  2. Do you want to attend the chuppi todo workshop for parents: YES/NO

 

Signature of Parents/Guardian

Mobile number:

Name & class of the child

Setting up acquittals monitoring committee in states: Steps for the safety of women and children in India #RapeRoko Part-17

  1. The judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in State of Gujarat v. Kishabhai & Ors., (2014) 5 SCC 108, the Hon’ble Supreme Court lamented the miscarriages of justice occasioned by acquittals, where accused may have served inordinate amount of time in jail, and directed that:

“23. On the culmination of a criminal case in acquittal, the investigating/prosecuting official(s) concerned responsible for such acquittal must necessarily be identified. A finding needs to be recorded in each case, whether the lapse was innocent or blameworthy. Each erring officer must suffer the consequences of his lapse, by appropriate departmental action, whenever called for. Taking into consideration the seriousness of the mater, the official concerned may be withdrawn from investigative responsibilities, permanently or temporarily, depending purely on his culpability. We also feel compelled to require the adoption of some indispensible measures, which may reduce the malady suffered by parties on both sides of criminal litigation. Accordingly, we direct Home Department of every State Government to formulate a procedure for taking action against all erring investigating/prosecuting officials/offenders. All such erring officials/officers identified, as responsible for failure of a prosecution case, on account of sheer negligence or because of culpable lapses, must suffer departmental action. The above mechanism formulated would infuse seriousness in the performance of investigating and prosecuting duties, and would ensure that investigation and prosecution are purposeful and decisive. The instant direction shall also be given effect to within 6 months.

  1. Many state have not as yet not set up such an acquittals committee despite clear directions from the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Accordingly, we recommend that a committee, hereinafter known as “Standing Committee” consisting of the following ought be set up with the following members, or their delegates:
    • Standing Counsel, Criminal at the Hon’ble High Court
    • Commissioner of Police
    • Secretary, Home Department
    • Secretary, Law Department
    • Director of Public Prosecution; and
    • Three eminent jurists, of whom at least one is a retired judge of the Hon’ble High Court nominated by the Hon’ble Chief Justice and who shall be ex officio Chairperson of the Standing Committee.
  2. The Committee will be forwarded all orders of acquittals with appropriate notes from Law Department, Director of Prosecutions, Deputy Commissioner of Police (with administrative responsibility over the Investigating Officer) and Standing Counsel, Criminal. The Home Department of the State Government) may also refer any case, decided prior to the issue of this notification, to the Standing Committee for its consideration.
  3. All records of the case, including but not limited to the following, will be forwarded to the Committee for consideration:
    • Trial Court Record
    • The Police File
    • Appellate Court File, if any.
    • Prosecutorial File
  4. The Law Department shall be the nodal department for referring cases of acquittal to the Standing Committee. The records of the case, as specified in Clause 3 hereinabove and notes, as specified in Clause 2 hereinabove, shall be forwarded to the Standing Committee within 14 days of the passing of the order of acquittal.
  5. The Standing Committee may appoint Advocates, not having practiced for less than seven years, to assist the Committee in its functions. Such Advocates may be awarded an honorarium for their services, as per the discretion of the Home Department.
  6. The members of the Standing Committee may be awarded an honorarium as per the discretion of the Home Department. The three members of the Standing Committee (eminent jurists) shall be entitled to salary, allowances and other perquisites as are available to a sitting judge of the High Court, provided that any such member who does not serve on the Committee as a full-time member, shall only be awarded an honorarium as per Clause 6 hereinabove.
  7. The Committee shall consider the order of acquittal and pass appropriate observations on the following:
  8. Conduct of the investigation.
  9. Conduct of the prosecution, as per the standards of a fair, independent and objective prosecution.
  10. Conduct of any appellate, review or writ proceedings in higher courts.
  11. The Committee may call, in the course of its inquiry, for any official involved in the investigation and/or prosecution of the case to appear before it. The Committee may also summon any official records for this purpose.
  12. The Committee will, on reaching its finding, make the following recommendations:
    • Whether the case is a fit case for appeal.
    • Whether any disciplinary proceedings are required to be initiated by the concerned department.
    • Whether the conclusions require appropriate amendment of any law, rule, guideline or point of procedure.
    • Any recommendations regarding training of police officers and prosecutors.
    • Recommendation for initiating appropriate proceedings for perjury if the Committee is of the opinion that a prima facie case exists for such initiation of proceedings.
  13. The Committee shall sit in the presence of a majority of members, provided that the presence of the Chairperson of the Committee shall be compulsory to achieve quorum, and is required to complete all reports within 60 days of the matter being referred to it.
  14. The recommendations of the Standing Committee shall be incorporated, from time to time, into the training programs administrated to investigating officers and public prosecutors by the Delhi Police and Department of Prosecution.
  15. An Action-Taken Report will be necessarily submitted to the Standing Committee within 45 days of making of a recommendation by the Standing Committee by the Head of the concerned Department.
  16. Any member of the Standing Committee who is interested or concerned or related in any manner with any case, police officer or prosecutor for personal, social, commercial or for any other reason, in such a manner that a reasonable apprehension of bias exists, shall make a declaration of the same and shall not be involved in the process for consideration for that particular case or concerning any such police officer or prosecutor.

Providing monetary aid under POCSO to victims and witnesses: Steps for the safety of women and children in India #RapeRoko Part-13

 

  1. Victims of offences under POCSO are being awarded interim compensation pursuant to Section 33(8) of PCOSO read with Rule 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Rules, 2012. This compensation is granted by the POCSO Special Court to “meet the immediate needs of the child for relief or rehabilitation at any stage after the registration of the First Information Report”[1].
  2. Rule 7 (4) of the POCSO Rules, 2012, provides for compensation to be paid by State Government from its Victims Compensation Fund or other scheme or fund established by it under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or any other law for the time being in force, and in the absence of such fund or scheme, by the State Government. Rule 7 provides further that interim compensation may also be paid to meet any immediate medical needs that the child may have. Further, Rule 7(3) provides that the criteria to be taken into account while fixing the amount of compensation to be paid include the severity of the mental or physical harm or injury suffered by the child; the expenditure incurred or likely to be incurred on his/her medical treatment for physical and/or mental health; and any disability suffered by the child as a result of the offence. Hence, the child may recover the expenses incurred on his/her treatment in this way.
  3. Most states have no clear criteria to assess the interim compensation. There are cases where the court has declined interim compensation because of reasons such as no proof of expenditure, no proof for need of counselling. There are also cases where applications for interim compensation have been pending for long periods awaiting completion of the testimony of all family members of the victims.
  4. The Legal Aid services lawyer, or, as the case may be, the private lawyers appointed by the child and/ or his/her family, plays a critical role. While it is the Special Public Prosecutor appointed under the POCSO Act, 2012 who will essentially be in charge of the trial in the Special Court, the child’s lawyer is entrusted with the task of ensuring that the child’s interest is protected. Thus, his/her role extends to representing the child, helping uncover the nature and extent of abuse, identifying responsible parties and securing damages to compensate the victim and facilitate the healing process.
  5. The lawyer should ensure that the child and his/ her family are aware of this, and should make the appropriate applications for interim and final compensation as provided under Rule 7. The lawyer should communicate and explain the given decision or judgment to the child in a language adapted to the child’s level of understanding. He should give the necessary information on possible measures that could be taken, such as appeal or other mechanisms for complaints as well as compensation. The child’s lawyer, guardian or legal representative should take all necessary steps to claim compensation for the child. Rule 7(6) provides that nothing shall prevent a child or his/her parent or guardian or any other person in whom the child has trust and confidence from submitting an application for seeking relief under any other rules or scheme of the Central Government or State Government. Thus, if there is any additional scheme for compensation, the child’s lawyer should inform the child of this and seek instructions on how to proceed further.
  6. Further, since compensation is awarded under POCSO to the victim based on the fact that he/she has suffered a heinous violation of his/her body and psyche, regardless of whether the accused is guilty or not of an offence, the Special Public Prosecutors handling POCSO cases should make every effort to ensure that the compensation awarded to child victims is fair and suitable to meet the victim’s immediate and long-term medical and socio-psychological needs.

[1] See Rule 7(1), POCSO Rules 2012.

Utilize funding and scale implementation for OSCC: Steps for the safety of women and children in India #RapeRoko Part-12

One-Stop-Crisis-Center at every Government Hospital and/or in every District, which is also widely publicized for any help that women require.

Currently, the Central Government has reduced funding for OSCCs to 1 per state as opposed to 1 per district and hasn’t commensurately increased capacity in the hospitals.

It is pertinent that State Governments ensure that the Central Government’s laxity doesn’t adversely affect the women and children who face violence in the city.

Establishment of an independent specialized agency to provide comprehensive support services to the victim: Steps for the safety of women and children in India #RapeRoko Part-10

What can State Governments do?

Establishment of an independent specialized agency to provide comprehensive support services to the victim

  1. Women navigate the justice system without information about the legal processes, the agencies involved in these processes, or their rights and role as victim-witnesses. An independent specialized agencies needs to be established for directly providing or facilitating comprehensive support services to victims under one roof. Staffed by paralegals and counsellors, the specialized agency must be able accessible for support directly, or through referral by police station or hospital. Currently, two of the best models of one stop crisis centers in the country are the one run in Bhopal called Gauravi, and the other, called Aparajita in Jaipur. The success of the model draws from the fact that they are mentored by senior activists with a long history of crisis intervention. The support services we found to be necessary for victims which the one stop crisis centres must provide, are the following:

 

  1. Assistance in registering the FIR and procuring a copy of the FIR
  2. Assistance through the medical examination, in obtaining information on the processes and their relevance, accessing free medical treatment and counselling;
  3. Applying for and availing compensation under the state victim compensation scheme
  4. Liaising with the Investigating Officer to track the status of investigation, and status of bail of the accused to keep the victim informed
  5. Legal advice and support, information on her rights, and orientation on the trial processes, including pre-trial visits to court
  6. Provide her with a support person or companion of her choice during trial
  7. Liaising with the prosecuting agency to arrange meetings with the victim, to present her account of the incident, orient her to the deposition processes
  8. Alert the prosecution or the court directly, of threats, coercion or pressures from the accused and his companions, or from her own family, to compromise
  9. Monitoring the progress of the trial and update the victim on each stage
  10. Providing individual and family counselling to the victim in the aftermath of the incident to mitigate the psycho-social impact of the incident.
  11. Facilitate through referrals or assist directly, support to victim on a case by case basis, other services necessary for her recovery. This may include medical treatment, re-location, safe shelter, school admissions, scholarship, vocational training, and employment to aid the victim’s recovery and empower her against re-victimisation.

Lawyers at police station, law panel to support trial processes: Steps for the safety of women and children in India #RapeRoko Part-11

  • Implement guidelines in the Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Union v. Union of India require a lawyer to be present in all police stations to provide information, orientation and guidance to rape victims from the beginning of the process.
  • Implement guidelines in NCT of Delhi v. Lalit Pandey require the State Commission for Women to institute a panel of lawyers to guide and support victims through pre-trial and trial processes. While the Delhi Commission for Women has empanelled several lawyers for this purpose, our study found that it is not working in practice. In the absence of adequate mentorship, monitoring and evaluation of the function of these lawyers, they will not be able to discharge their functions.

Parliament should enact Tarunabh Khaitan’s draft anti-discrimination and equality bill: Steps for the safety of women and children in India #RapeRoko Part-9

  •  

    Highlights of this Bill:

    • The Bill creates civil liability for acts of discrimination in the state of Delhi.
    • Discrimination includes direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment, victimisation and aggravated discrimination.
    • Aggravated discrimination includes boycott, segregation and discriminatory violence.
    • In addition to these general concepts, the Equality Commission has the power to issue sector-wise and group-specific guidelines to characterise certain types of acts as one or another form of discrimination.
    • The duty to refrain from discrimination applies not only to public authorities and private persons performing a public function but also to others, including public and private employers, landlords, traders and service providers.
    • The duty on these persons includes the duty to institute an internal complaints mechanism.
    • Everyone has a duty to refrain from aggravated discrimination.
    • The protection against discrimination is generally available symmetrically to dominant as well as disadvantaged groups and to majorities as well as minorities: to men as well as women, Hindus as well as Muslims, brahmins as well as dalits.
    • This symmetric protection does not affect the validity of affirmative action and diversification measures to benefit disadvantaged groups.
    • Public authorities and private persons performing public functions have a diversification duty to progressively increase the participation of substantially excluded disadvantaged groups.
    • Public authorities have a duty to give due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination.
    • If the internal complaints mechanism fails to deliver, the Equality Commission has the main responsibility for civil enforcement.
    • A permanent and independent Equality Commission has the responsibility to promote the objectives of the Bill and aid its implementation.
    • Protection orders against aggravated discrimination may be obtained from the Magistrate’s court.