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2,219 human trafficking victims in AP, only two get aid

VIJAYAWADA: Of the 2,219 victims of human trafficking rescued between 2016 and 2020, only two were awarded compensation to aid their rehabilitation, the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) has revealed.The victims, both from Kurnool, were provided compensation in 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively, SLSA said in a response to a query made under the Right to Information Act by Sanjog, a Kolkata-based non-profit.

The central government has been allocating funds to the State government for compensating the victims through the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA). In fact, applications made to DLSA were in single digits from 2015 to 2019.

Officials and other stakeholders, including NGOs, attribute the lesser number of applications to poor awareness among the victims on the compensation. Though the SLSA has been working towards creating public awareness by holding several seminars annually, not many have come forward seeking the compensation.

A research study on ‘Compensate Victims’, published by Sanjog in 2020, held the lack of awareness responsible for human-trafficking victims not seeking the aid. Lack of standard operating procedures, inadequate coordination among the police, shelter homes and Department of Women and Children in educating the victims, too, have led to the abysmal number of applications.

In some cases, the compensation was sanctioned, but the amount has not been yet credited to the victim’s bank account. Incidentally, the Prakasam DLSA handed over an interim compensation of `1 lakh to a Chirala resident on February 27, 2021 and was received by the victim. This, however, was not reflected in the SLSA data.

The latest data SLSA provided showed that a total of 7,77,72,251 was sanctioned to SLSA to extend aid to victims of all crimes and it utilised only3,65,91,136 between 2018 and 2o2o. The data also revealed that funds to the tune of 4,11,81,115 allocated by the central government had lapsed over the four years. A victim, G Sarita (name changed), from Prakasam said she was awarded4 lakh as compensation in 2021 though she was rescued in 2016.

She lamented that though the DLSA at Prakasam had awarded an interim relief, it was yet to be deposited. “Only a few victims are appealing for the compensation as they have to prove themselves as rescued within 42 hours, which is impossible due to the victims’ mental condition and lack of awareness.

Neither the police nor shelter homes were educating the victims, said N Rammohan Rao, Secretary, HELP, an NGO. P Rajani, state vice president of Vimukthi, a forum of survivors, called for providing legal aid to trafficking survivors to collect certified copies of FIR and to aid them in other proceedings. M Babitha, Member Secretary, SLSA said organisations were not providing the complete information on rescued persons to the SLSA. She said judicial officers were holding meetings for creating awareness.