The government recently decided to give acid attack victims in India an additional compensation of Rs 1 lakh. This is in addition to the Rs 3 lakh under the Victim Compensation Scheme (VCS) that was made compulsory in 2013. 

The Centre has taken this measure, under the prime minister’s National Relief Fund, to provide immediate temporary relief to victims and said that the amount will be deposited in their bank accounts within five working days. Sounds good, but is it really enough?

b’Source: PTI’

It isn’t enough

In 2015, Supreme Court termed the minimum compensation of Rs 3 lakh for acid attack survivors as “insufficient”. Seems that’s why the govt, therefore stepped up and poured another lakh into the fund, but activists don’t seem impressed at all.

Calling the compensation way too ‘miniscule’, Megha Mishra of Acid Survivors Foundation India, told ScoopWhoop News that ”the amount is way too less to cover the lifelong surgeries. And more than the compensation, the govt should ensure proper and quality treatment to begin with”.

 Sadly, most of the survivors in India are paying for their reconstructive surgeries out of their own pockets or are relying on some extra assistance.

What should the govt do then?

Rather than just announcing compensation, the activists would rather want the government do something concrete about rehabililating these women whose confidence has been scarred by chemicals.  

”An additional lakh rupees is of course welcome and helps the victims in a lot of ways, but the government should really do something about restoring their lives back to normalcy”, Ashish Shukla, a campaigner with Stop Acid Attacks, told ScoopWhoop News. That includes not just a fixed amount, but also support for long-term reconstructive surgeries, psychological care, jobs and rehabilitation.

”There also should be a proper awareness program as many a times victims don’t really know how to retrieve the compensation”, he says.

b’Source: Reuters’

Should the compensation amount then be further increased?

Normally, you would say yes, of course. But Shukla made us understand how that won’t serve any purpose and how the money could end up into wrong hands.

”Supposedly, the govt decides to give the victim Rs 20 lakh as compensation, there is a possibility that the family keeps the money with them because of greed and leaves the victim without any treatment. There have been cases like that and that will lead to more crime cases”, he says explaining how the amount could be misused.

”The government, instead should take up full responsibility to treat them and bear full cost of the reconstructive surgeries and also provide them avenues for jobs so that they are back on their feet. If that’s done, then a compensation of a lakh or two will also do. Basically that wouldn’t really matter then”, he says.

b’Source: Reuters’

Is there any hope?

Some good news arrived in December last year, when Supreme Court ordered all states and Union Territories to consider acid attack survivors as disabled people. 

Once they are included in the disability list, the victims can benefit from several government schemes meant for physically handicapped people such as 3% reservation in government jobs. 

This was something these women can really gain from and the govt needs to come up with more of such schemes to give them a life of ticket to independence and safety.