Shillong: The Meghalaya cabinet has approved a comprehensive policy to pay compensation to victims of rape and human trafficking, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said Wednesday.
"Rape victims in Meghalaya will now be eligible for compensation of up to Rs.50,000 after the cabinet approved a proposal to establish the Meghalaya Victim Compensation Scheme," Sangma said. The cabinet met Tuesday night.
Apart from victims of rape, the chief minister said women and children who are victims of human trafficking or who suffer injury or mental agony would be entitled to compensation of up to Rs.25,000.
The Meghalaya Victim Compensation Scheme for rape and human trafficking victims is to ensure that those who suffer severe mental trauma and grievous injuries get financial aid from the state.
"The scheme is mandatory for the state government in accordance with Section 357(A) provided under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Victims will have to file complaints before the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) within 90 days from the date of occurrence of the crime," the chief minister said.
Victims will have to file complaints before the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) within 90 days from the date of occurrence of the crime.
Meghalaya, despite being predominantly inhabited by tribal communities who follow the matrilineal system, has been witness to numerous crimes against women over the years.
Welcoming the cabinet decision, Civil Society Women`s Organisation (CSWO), a powerful women`s group in Meghalaya, urged the government to take stringent steps against such crimes by initiating thorough investigation into rape cases and also expedite investigation by setting specific time limits.
"We welcome the cabinet decision but to ensure justice to those victims the government should transfer all rape cases to fast track courts besides set up separate medical units to deal with sexual assaults so that the victims are not subjected to further humiliation," CSWO chairperson Agnes Kharshiing told IANS.
Kharshiing urged the government to take action against erring police officers who "mislead the people and help the perpetrators".