At a time when we hear of women being subjected to crimes of a sexual nature every single day, survivors of such crimes need more than just moral support. Rahat, a collaboration between the women and child development ministry and Majlis Legal Centre aims to do exactly that by offering socio-legal support to victims of sexual assault.
The commissioner of Mumbai police has issued a circular to police stations across the city, asking the policemen to follow the draft guidelines which have been prepared to help them deal better with sexual assault cases.
Veteran lawyer and activist Flavia Agnes, whose heads Majli, the NGO that fights for women’s rights, said, “We found that while the police continued their investigation in sexual assault cases, it is the victim who faced the agony and difficulty to come in terms with her life. We decided to fill this gap and help the victim by giving her socio-legal support.”
The team has drafted the set of guidelines to be used by the police while investigating cases of sexual assault against women and children.
“We realised that the police were not aware of the provisions in the new laws, namely the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, and the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013,” said Audrey D’Mello, project director of the pilot programme, which will gradually be replicated in other districts of the state.
She added, “Through the guidelines, we have tried to emphasise the important aspects that the police need to know while recording and investigating such offences.”
With this project in place, the state’s women and child development department will be notified about every sexual assault case, from where the Rahat team will take charge.
“We found that victims face emotional trauma and pressure from the community and the family of the accused. That’s when they require constant social support. We plan to provide that support through this project,” added D’Mello.