Recently, the Central Government launched a scheme to provide shelter, food, and medical and legal aid to minors abandoned by their families due to pregnancy from rape. The Women and Child Development Minister, Smriti Irani, has announced this new scheme under the Nirbhaya initiative aimed at providing infrastructural and financial support to pregnant minor victims who lack the means to support themselves. This scheme utilizes the administrative structure of Mission Vatsalya, which focuses on child protection and welfare––in collaboration with state governments and childcare institutions. The scheme is to support girls up to 18 years of age in childcare institutions until they turn 23 – in aftercare facilities.
The government has established 415 fast-track courts for POCSO cases to ensure accelerated access to justice for minor rape victims. Under this new scheme, the sanctioned legal aid covers safe transportation for court hearings. It aims to support minor girls who are victims of penetrative sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault. Its services include education, police assistance, counseling, legal support, medical aid, and insurance coverage. The medical support encompasses maternity and infant care.
Of note, it is not mandatory for a girl child victim to provide an FIR copy to avail of the scheme's support, but the guardians or authorities must inform the police and register an FIR. The declaration stated that separate facilities and case workers are to be allocated to the scheme's beneficiaries in childcare homes, and dedicated institutions will be established to rehabilitate POCSO victims under Mission Vatsalya guidelines.
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