Nine hundred and ninety-nine days.
That is the wait a trafficking survivor had to endure to have her victim compensation credited to her account.
The order that granted her the money was passed by the South-24 Parganas district legal services authority (DLSA) on January 22, 2021.
She finally received the money on October 18.
This newspaper has carried several reports on delays faced by trafficking survivors in receiving the compensation. The delay is usually attributed to scarcity of funds.
The state legal services authority is the custodian of the corpus created by the Bengal government for disbursal of funds — under the West Bengal Victim Compensation Scheme, created in 2012 — to compensate survivors of offences like rape, acid attacks and human trafficking.
The money is intended to provide a degree of financial independence to the survivors and help meet health and education expenses.
The delay has not been able to crush the survivor’s spirit.
“I want to start a shoe store. Our local market does not have one,” the woman told The Telegraph.
The 21-year-old woman, who got married recently, already runs a grocery store that she started with help from a local NGO that works with trafficking survivors.
She was trafficked in 2014, allegedly by her dance teacher. As a 12-year-old, she lived with her grandmother and younger brother. Her parents, both of them migrant labourers, were working in the Andamans.
She was rescued from a house near the infamous red-light district of GB Road in Delhi in 2015. Her parents had filed a missing complaint and a couple of NGOs helped police in the rescue.
“In captivity, the woman was brutalised every day by multiple men. But her life had been far from smooth even after rescue. It was a different battle, against stigma,” said Pompa Ghosh, a social worker with Goranbose Gram Bikas Kendra, an NGO that works for the rehabilitation of trafficking survivors.
“I was in Class VI when trafficked. Initially, the school authorities were not willing to take me back. Some teachers and guardians said I would be a bad example for other students,” the woman said.
It took the intervention of the NGO for her to get readmitted.
She quit her studies while pursuing her graduation.
The dance teacher, her alleged trafficker, is out on bail.
Another survivor, also from the same district, had the victim compensation — also of Rs 4 lakh — credited to her account on October 10.
Her order was passed by the DLSA on September 7 last year.
“Now 25, she was trafficked in 2010 from Canning, allegedly by a female relative when she visited the local market to buy an anklet. She was rescued from a brothel in Pune’s Budwar Peth in 2012,” said a lawyer associated with filing her application for victim compensation.
“I want to repair my home with the money,” said the woman, who is now married and has two children.
An official in the law department of the state government said the compensation files that reached the SLSA in August and September 2022 were being cleared now.
An official of the Bengal state legal services authority said: “There is no fund crunch at the moment. We are clearing the pending payments serially”.