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Manodhairya Compensation instills courage for restoration

At the age of 12, Lara was burdened with family responsibilities when her father passed away. Lara’s mother’s illness prevented her from carrying on with any strenuous work, and her illiteracy didn’t afford her better prospects. Lara felt even more responsible than before towards her mother and sister.  In need of money to pay bills and rent, Lara’s mother asked her to borrow money from a family friend. 

Unfortunately instead of a friend, Lara found a fiend, who exploited her need by prostituting her.  She blackmailed Lara to return and service customers at a private residence for part of the money. On 29 July 2015, Lara was rescued by the Virar police from a private apartment. “Her frail and tiny structure resembled nothing of a 15 year old,” said a policeman on the rescue.

Almost a year after her rescue, on 6 June 2016 Lara received confirmation from the State Government that she had been sanctioned 3 lakh rupees as compensation through Manodhairya Victim Compensation Scheme for victims of rape, sexual assault and acid attacks. The opening of a bank account and eight months later, Lara made another journey for money. This time however it was with Lila Nanda, the Casework Manager from International Justice Mission, Mumbai. The two of them visited the DWCD Palghar to accept the compensation awarded to her through the Scheme. Although this Scheme has been in place for four years, Lara is IJM Mumbai’s first survivor to receive compensation.

In 2013, the Government of Maharashtra launched the Manodhairya Victim Compensation Scheme for victims of rape, sexual assault and acid attacks. Lara had no documents, not even a birth certificate. Nanda worked tirelessly to get Lara’s documents and open a bank account for her. Nanda recalls how the police were extremely proactive in providing the necessary documents to ensure Lara received compensation under the scheme. The Police’s report to the Department of Women and Child Development in Vasai, confirmed Lara as a child victim of sexual offenses, making her eligible for financial compensation under the Manodhairya Scheme. 

Before becoming a victim of commercial sexual exploitation, Lara was a victim of a vicious cycle of poverty. This financial assistance serves as hope that the cycle would end. This compensation ensures Lara can further her education, find a job and break that cycle forever. After acknowledging the sanction of funds before the Department of Women and Child Development, Palghar, on 15 March 2017, 75,000 rupees was deposited into Lara’s account. The remainder will be transferred to her when she turns 18 next year.

Lara’s mother and sister were able to move back into the government subsidized home and Lara is staying at a government shelter home until she turns 18. She is studying and will give her 10th Standard Board Exams in February 2018. The change in Lara since being rescued is obvious. She is healthy and happy. “She loves makeup, nail polish and dressing up. She loves to take care of herself,” said Nanda.

IJM works with victims of trafficking, who are not included in the Scheme. It is thus necessary for the victim to be a minor and the police include sections under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (PoCSO) in the charge sheet to qualify for the Manodhairya Scheme. Police often do not include PoCSO sections in the first information reports for trafficking cases as they believe the Indian Penal Code sections are adequate. In Lara’s case, IJM Advocates ensured the Police included PoCSO charges in the rescue report, making her eligible for compensation.