[20 May 2024] The Hindu Op-ed: A minor girl victim support scheme that loses its way

PYQ Relevance:

Q What are the continued challenges for Women in India against time and space? (UPSC IAS/2019)

Q. Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization on women in India. (UPSC IAS/2015)


Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017? (UPSC IAS/2019)

1. Pregnant women are entitled for three months pre-delivery and three months post-delivery paid leave.
2. Enterprises with crèches must allow the mother minimum six crèche visits daily.
3. Women with two children get reduced entitlements.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3


Prelims:  POCSO Act; Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP);

Mains: Society; Women Issues;

Mentor comment: Did you know that there are around 1,49,404 total cases of crimes against children, with varying rates across states and union territories? Within this, Sexual crimes are prevalent with a high number of offenses against girls compared to boys. Hence, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) was passed in 2012 to comprehensively deal with the issue of sexual offenses against children. POCSO not only spells out the punishments for offenses but also sets out a system for support of victims and improved methods for catching offenders. Recently, this issue has been contentious, citing the importance of maintaining consistency within the laws and legislation availed by the Indian Government.

Let’s learn.

Why in the News?

The “Scheme for Care and Support to Victims under Sections 4 & 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012” which was introduced by the Ministry of WCD has faced criticism for its lack of clarity, inconsistencies, and failure to align with existing legislation. 

About the Scheme for Care and Support to Victims of the POCSO Act, 2012:

It is a centrally funded initiative from the NIRBHAYA fund of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

The scheme seeks to address the challenges faced by minor pregnant girl victims and fill the gaps in existing support systems. It aims to provide integrated support services for emergency and long-term rehabilitation.

Sections 4 & 6: The services provided under this include a comprehensive range of support and assistance for minor pregnant girl victims who have experienced sexual assault or abuse.These services aim to address the challenges faced by these victims and ensure their well-being and rehabilitation.

What are the issues surrounding this Scheme?

  • Inconsistencies with Legislation:
    • Incorrect interpretation of Section 27 of the POCSO Act, 2012, regarding medical examination of minors. There is some misrepresentation of the Child Welfare Committee’s authority regarding sexual assault medical examination.
    • Delaying stipulation in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) process contradicts the MTP Act. There are limited references to MTP options within the scheme.
  • Expanded Scope Without Corresponding Revisions: The scheme initially targeted abandoned or orphaned pregnant girls, and now includes all pregnant girl victims under the POCSO Act. This kind of lack of proper redrafting to reflect inclusiveness results in confusion.
  • Adolescent Sexual Health Education and Prevention: The scheme has failed to address adolescent sexual health needs and perpetuates a reactive approach to sexual violence. There is a need for proactive Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) information and services for youth.
    • Empirical data suggests cases of pregnancy due to consensual relationships, highlighting the importance of comprehensive SRH education.
  • Monetary Implications: Proposed financial support includes an initial payment of ₹6,000 and a monthly payment of ₹4,000 until age 21, extendable to 23. Hence, due to the high incidence of child marriages and teenage pregnancies, there is an increased financial burden.
  • Contrary to Rules and Regulations: The Pregnant victims under the POCSO Act are not automatically classified as Children in Need of Care and Protection (CNCP). The Scheme mandates treating all pregnant girls as CNCP, contrary to POCSO Rules and the Juvenile Justice Act.
    • Therefore, the unnecessary procedural burdens are imposed on victims due to misclassification

Way Forward:

  • Streamlined Procedures: Govt. needs to simplify the application and support process to make it more accessible to POCSO victims.
  • Enhanced Outreach: India needs to increase its awareness through targeted campaigns and partnerships with civil societies and community organizations.
  • Technology Integration: For timely delivery and efficient implementation, the utilization of technology is necessary to streamline services and provide easier access to support.
  • Training and Capacity Building: Invest in training for staff and volunteers to enhance service delivery.


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