The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, has introduced a new scheme targeting pregnant minor victims of sexual assault who lack family support. The scheme, which has a budget of Rs 74.10 crore, aims to provide critical care and support to these victims throughout the country. It will include provisions such as shelter, food, legal aid, and other necessary assistance to ensure their well-being.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Major Provisions of the Scheme for Pregnant Minor Victims of Sexual Assault
- Nirbhaya Fund
- Mission Vatsalya Scheme
Major Provisions of the Scheme for Pregnant Minor Victims of Sexual Assault
Eligibility Criteria and Documentation:
- Victims below the age of 18 who become pregnant due to rape or assault as per the POCSO Act, 2012, and are orphans or abandoned by their families.
- Possession of an FIR is not mandatory to avail the scheme’s benefits.
- Medical, financial, and infrastructural support will be provided under the Nirbhaya Fund.
- Dedicated shelters will be established for these victims, either as standalone shelters or within existing
- Child care institutions (CCIs).
- Separate safe spaces within CCIs will be provided to cater to the specific needs of minor rape victims.
- Integrated support will be provided, including education, police assistance, healthcare, and legal support.
- Insurance coverage will be extended to the minor victim and her newborn, ensuring access to justice and rehabilitation.
About Child Care institutions [CCIs]
- Child Care Institutions (CCIs) are facilities established under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
- These institutions provide care and protection to children who are in need of such services. CCIs include various types of facilities that cater to the specific needs of children, ensuring their safety, well-being, and development.
- Some examples of CCIs are Children Home, Open Shelter, Observation Home, Special Home, and Specialized Adoption Agency.
- These institutions play a crucial role in providing a supportive environment for children who may be in difficult circumstances or require temporary or long-term care and protection.
- The scheme will be implemented through the administrative structure of Mission Vatsalya in collaboration with State governments and Child Care Institutions (CCIs).
- The existing network of 415 POCSO fast-track courts across India will help expedite justice for minor victims of rape.
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data from 2021, there were 51,863 reported cases under the POCSO Act.
- A majority of these cases (64%) fell under sections 3 and 5 of the Act, which deal with penetrative sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault, respectively.
- Many victims, particularly girls, become pregnant as a result of these assaults and face additional physical and mental health challenges when disowned or abandoned by their families.
- Establishment: The Nirbhaya Fund was created by the Government of India in 2013 following the Nirbhaya Case.
- Objective: It is specifically aimed at financing projects to improve women’s safety and security.
- Management: The fund is managed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD).
- Empowered Committee: The Empowered Committee (EC), chaired by the MWCD Secretary, consists of officials from various ministries and recommends programs for funding under the Nirbhaya Fund.
- Major Projects: The fund supports projects such as the Central Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF), One Stop Centers (OSCs), Universalization of Women Helpline (WHL), and Mahila Police Volunteer (MPV).
- Funding Approval: The EC has approved programs worth approximately Rs. 9,800 crores since the establishment of the Nirbhaya Fund.
Mission Vatsalya Scheme:
- Launch: The Mission Vatsalya Scheme was launched by the MWCD in 2021.
- Objective: The scheme provides a roadmap to achieve development and child protection priorities aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Focus Areas: It emphasizes child rights, advocacy, and awareness while strengthening the juvenile justice care and protection system with the motto of ‘leave no child behind’.
- Legal Framework: The scheme is implemented based on the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 (JJ Act) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 (POCSO Act).
- Implementation Approach: The scheme is implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in partnership with state governments and union territory administrations.
- Objectives: It aims to support universal access and improve the quality of services related to child protection across the country.
Source: Indian Express