Bhubaneswar: With a significant rise in incidents related to violence against women in the past few years, the state has been unable to compensate most of the victims thus far.
Experts, as well as various courts, have repeatedly stressed on the need to ensure proper rehabilitation and compensation to the victims who usually undergo huge physical, mental and financial trauma as a result of the crime. Adequate compensation to the victims is just as important as bringing the offender to justice.
Various state governments in the country have enacted Victim Compensation Schemes for the purpose to provide “funds for compensation to the victims or their dependents, who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime and who require rehabilitation.”
However, a recent RTI reply revealed that the authorities have failed to provide compensations to more than half of the women victims under the ‘Odisha Victim Compensation Scheme’(OVCS) in the state between 2013 and August 2020.
As per the OVCS (Amendment), 2018, a rape victim is eligible to get financial compensation between `4 lakh to a maximum of `7 lakh. Gang rape victims can be awarded a maximum of `10 lakhs. Similarly, an acid attack victim will get a maximum of `8 lakhs in financial aid.
In reply to a RTI query by human rights activist Himanshu Sekhar Nayak, Odisha State Legal Service Authority informed that only 77 victims received financial aid under the scheme in 2013.
Meanwhile, the crime branch of state police, while replying to another RTI query by Nayak, revealed that 1832 rape, 94 gang rape and one acid attack case have been registered in the state during 2013.
In 2014, as many as 176 women victims managed to get compensation as against 2011 rape, 91 gang rape and nine acid attack cases. The authorities compensated 158 women victims in 2015 while there were 2286 rapes, 109 gang rapes and seven acid attacks during the year.
As many as 373 in 2016 and 751 in 2017 were compensated under the scheme. There were 2221 rape, 92 gang rape and 13 acid attack incidents in the state during 2017. The number of victims getting compensations declined to 721 in 2018 from 751 during the previous year. The number further falls to 545 in 2019.
As per the RTI, as many as 424 victims received financial aid till August 31, 2020.
“The delay in disbursement of compensation to the victims is due to lingering court trials and snail-paced investigation by the police,” said an official of Odisha State Legal Services Authority, the agency authorised to disburse compensations.
Gyan Ranjan Mohapatra, OP