PANJIM: The statistics are stark. Goa has been unfair and cruel to its most vulnerable victims of sexual and other forms of violence. Official documents in possession of the Herald reveal that in North Goa, between 2015 and 2022, victims were compensated 2016, 2017 and 2018. But in 2015, and for four years from 2019 to 2022, not a single child victim received any compensation under the Victim Compensation Scheme for Children 2015.
South Goa fares worse. In the six years 2015 and 2020, not a single child victim has received even one rupee.
The situation gets even grimmer when you realise the abysmal rate of case disbursals. Since 2015 till date, North and South Goa District administrations have together disbursed compensation to a mere six applications out of the 94 applications that either stand rejected or are pending ascent before the authorities.
The replies of the North and South Goa District Administrations expose the fact that there exists a failure to provide compensation to the victims and their families. From 2015 to 2022 the North Goa Administration disbursed compensation only in 2016, 2017 and 2018. No applicants got compensation after 2018. Meanwhile, the South Goa Administration from 2015 to 2022 has disbursed compensation only in one case in 2021. According to the government records, 44 applications to North Goa remain pending before various authorities. Meanwhile, the South Goa administration has only sanctioned 1 application of the 44 they received since 2015.
From 2015 to 2022 end, the South Goa administration received 37 applications seeking compensation of which none of the applicants got any money from 2015 to 2020. One applicant got a compensation of Rs 20,000 for the 11 applications that were received in 2021. In 2022 again, just one application for compensation was received which has been rejected.
As far as North Goa is concerned 57 applications were received since 2015 of which two got compensation in 2016, two in 2017, and one in 2018. Ever since 2018, the administration has not sanctioned a single compensation application as several got rejected and a majority of them remain pending before authorities.
The Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (GSCPCR) has expressed displeasure over the very low conviction rate in Goa as far as POCSO cases are concerned. Several POCSO cases are ending in acquittals too. The GSCPCR Secretary and Special Secretary Home, Sanjith Rodrigues had earlier said that there exists also a grim reality of a gross failure to support and rehabilitate the victims and their families in terms of victim compensation too. As a result of this, there are instances of victims and their families turning hostile, stopping cooperating, and losing hope.
Mathew Kurian from El Shaddai Goa said, “The Victim Compensation Scheme has become a joke played on the victims in Goa. It is a complete mockery of the plight of the victims who are already traumatized. There have been cases where persons got re-victimised due to lack of money. Several did not go ahead with cases in court due to lack of funds.”
“The authorities who are sanctioning the compensation need to be kind and compassionate to the victims,” he added.
Adv Caroline Colaco said, “The government cannot just abdicate its responsibility and say that we don’t have funds to pay. The government needs to amend the law to make sure the victims are guaranteed compensation. In addition to the less compensation amount, several cases are pending for disbursal. This delay in disbursement also means denial,” she added.