Women in India want national policy for rape survivors

This is an urgent need because of the growing incidents of sexual offences, says Catholic nun
Women in India want national policy for rape survivors

The mother of an Indian girl who was raped and set on fire cries out during her daughter's funeral in Greater Noida near the Indian capital New Delhi on March 9.

Women activists in India have welcomed the Supreme Court directing the federal government to come up with a national policy for the rehabilitation of rape survivors.

"There has been no policy in the past and nothing in the present," Jagmati Sangwan, founder of the All India Democratic Women's Association, told ucanews.com.

The Supreme Court May 26 said the government needs to formulate a national policy for relief and rehabilitation of rape survivors and that just creating a fund for them is tantamount to "paying lip service."

The federal government had in 2013 set up the Nirbhaya Fund with 10 billion rupees (US$150 million) to help victims of sexual assault and for ensuring the safety of women. Though the fund has doubled in the past three years, it mostly remains unutilized.

The fund was formed after the 2012 gang rape and murder of a medical student in a moving bus in New Delhi led to national outrage.

"The fund that was created for the rehabilitation of rape survivors has not served any purpose," Sangwan said.

Sister Evelyn Menezs of the Delhi Archdiocese's commission for women told ucanews.com that there is an urgent need of a national policy for rape survivors because of the growing incidents of sexual offense in the country.

Different Indian states have different schemes. However, there is no national plan as to how rape victims are to be compensated.

Also, the government needs to use the funds judicially for the welfare and rehabilitation of rape survivors, she said.

Many rape victims in India are not aware this fund created for their development and welfare, she said.

"We need to empower these women and see that the money is used in the right direction," Sister Menezs said.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau 93 women are being raped every day in the country. There has been an increase in the number of rapes reported in India — from 24,923 in 2012 to 33,707 in 2013 and 37,413 in 2014.

Earlier, Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal who is based in the Madhya Pradesh state that has the country's highest rate of women being raped, told ucanews.com that the actual number is much higher. 

Since rape carries a social stigma, women do not dare to go to the police or the public with such issues, he said.

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