Sex-Trafficking Survivor Awarded 9 Lakhs As Compensation 

News Desk, News Nation 360 : The District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), Kolkata, recently awarded a minor survivor of trafficking, an amount of Rs. 9 lakhs as compensation. This is the highest amount awarded to a survivor of a sex trafficking case as compensation by any District Legal Service Authority in West Bengal. International Justice Mission, Kolkata, assisted the investigating agency and public prosecutor in this case. The investigating officer proactively prepared all the required reports and submitted details and stage of the trial. The matter was then transferred before the Court of the 2nd Additional and District Judge, the designated POCSO Court for Kolkata jurisdiction. However, at the time of filing this compensation application, the said POCSO Court was vacant, which meant that the trial would not begin till a Judge was appointed. The case was inter-state trafficking in which the survivor was only around 13 years old when she was trafficked from Odisha and sold to a brothel in Songachi, West Bengal, in 2016, for commercial sexual exploitation.  She was eventually rescued on 7th May 2016 by officers of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, Kolkata Police. Three perpetrators, of whom one was a minor, were arrested in connection with this case. However, in this case, the charge-sheet was submitted without the relevant POCSO Sections. A prayer for enhancement of compensation amount under the said Scheme was also made in the application since the survivor was below the age of 14 at the time of the incident.  The DLSA, Kolkata, then forwarded a recommendation report to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for passing the final order, awarding the survivor victim compensation. The Board, after considering all the relevant circumstances, such as the pending POCSO cases, non-grant of interim compensation, since the trial is yet to begin, the psychological effects of this crime and victim’s educational pursuits, awarded the minor survivor a total amount of Rs. 9 lakhs. Saptarshi Biswas, Director of Legal Solutions, International Justice Mission, Kolkata said that the compensation is a result of the combined efforts of Police, Courts and the Department of Child Development & Women Development in West Bengal. From nearly ending sex-trafficking of children in red-light areas, convicting customers, providing possibly the largest victim compensation, they are glad that the efforts of the State are making West Bengal a formidable global leader in combatting this crime. They are hopeful that the precedent set in West Bengal will be followed in other states to benefit survivors of trafficking that includes crimes like sex-trafficking, bonded labour etc. 

Report : Anustup Kundu

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