The court was dealing with an appeal challenging the grant of compensation of Rs 50,000 to a 7-year-old victim of sexual assault.
“The criminal claims the survivors’ life, if not physically then affects their mental and emotional state. It, thus, becomes imperative that the survivor of the crime is not overlooked and rehabilitation for the sufferings of the survivor is not overlooked,” it was observed.
There is duty cast on the state to protect their rights and deliver justice to the survivors. This justice, in the form of compensation, should be given its liberal meaning thereby giving the maximum benefit and as quickly as possible, the court noted.
“In my opinion, survivor-centric justice is the key to prevent revictimisation of the survivor,” the order of Justice Jasmeet Singh said, pointing out tht justice for survivors of sexual violence has several components such as having a voice, being treated with dignity, being informed, and being able to participate in the justice process etc.
Justice is not only about calling wrongdoers to account, but also having them take responsibility for their actions.
Finally, the prevention of sexual violence is of fundamental importance to survivors’ sense of justice. It entails the transformation of society into one that understands and recognises the harms of sexual violence and that actively makes efforts to reduce its prevalence, and therefore goes beyond (though still includes) the rehabilitation of individual offenders, the court said.
The court also referred to the World Heatlh Organisation’s findings on how violence at a young age has a life impact on the health and well-being of children, families, communities and nations.
Exposure to violence at an early age can impair brain development and damage other parts of the nervous system, as well as the endocrine, circulatory, musculoskeletal, reproductive, respiratory, and immune systems, with lifelong consequences. As such, violence against children can negatively affect cognitive development and result in educational and vocational underachievement, said the findings.
Children exposed to violence and other adversities are substantially more likely to smoke, misuse alcohol and drugs, and engage in high-risk sexual behaviour. They also have higher rates of anxiety, depression, other mental health problems and suicide.
This will lead to induced abortions, gynaecological problems, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Contributes to a wide range of non-communicable diseases as children grow older. The increased risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and other health conditions is largely due to the negative coping and health risk behaviours associated with violence.
Children exposed to violence and other adversities are more likely to drop out of school, have difficulty finding and keeping a job, and are at heightened risk for later victimization and/or perpetration of interpersonal and self-directed violence, by which violence against children can affect the next generation, said the WHO findings.
(Jaison Wilson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)