DISHA is creating a field that recognizes victims of homicide attacks and their families as key stakeholders and makes them part of a justice system that is not only retributive, but also restorative. In its current state, the criminal justice system focuses on punishing the criminal. There it fails often, but it fails completely to respond to the needs of the victims and their families, leaving them to a life of trauma and poverty. Despite having rehabilitation rights and being covered under the law, these victims and their families have been invisible within the justice delivery system, even though it depends upon them to activate it by filing charges.
To empower the victims and their families, DISHA engages various stakeholders in the system to create the political will and social acceptance of the rarely invoked Victim’s Compensation Act. DISHA works with the police, judiciary, village-based governance structures, and government schools and youth volunteers to ensure that victims and their family are accorded rights under the law: economic compensation, emotional support, access to livelihood opportunities and re-integration into society irrespective of caste, class or gender. By uncovering the gaps that prevent this Act from being executed at the district, state and national level, DISHA is creating a new structural blueprint to improve justice-delivery mechanisms for these victims. This structure enables new roles for institutional stakeholders like the police and medical fraternity, and rather than creating parallel systems of redressal, DISHA is layering these existing “leverage points” with both knowledge and capacities to implement the law. For instance, DISHA has established “Victim Help Desks” outside police stations to both act as a point of reference for victims who seek rehabilitation, and also sensitize the officers to emphasis the better service delivery to victim. DISHA built a support network across various levels of law-enforcement agencies, and through a collaborative approach, is helping them re-define their roles within the justice system to become an ally for the poor and vulnerable.
Through this initiative DISHA creating a legal, social and policy framework to recognize victims and their families as key stakeholders in the criminal justice system by making them part of justice system and that is not only retributive, but also restorative.