Four-year-old Anum* rests on the bed with her left arm in a sling. On Saturday afternoon, the girl, who would not write down an alphabet as she wanted to go outside and play, was beaten by her tuition teacher so severely that she suffered a broken arm.
“My teacher twisted my arm when I did not write the letter ‘A’ in my copy,” says Anum as her large brown eyes well up with tears.
She then showed her back, where the teacher had carved an “A” with a pencil, to teach her a lesson. “It hurts here,” she whispered.
Anum’s mother Farhana told The Express Tribune that her daughter and her five-year-old son Anwar go for tuitions at the house of a Montessori teacher Nabeela* who lives opposite their residential apartments block in Gulistan-e-Jauhar.
Everywhere in the building complex, the teacher has pinned up posters, stating she is a qualified Montessori teacher and her home is open for summer tuitions and day-care.
“The children were getting bored in the vacations so I had them admitted to the centre. But I found it quite odd that there was no one else there besides my children.”
On Saturday, the teacher had called to inform Anum’s parents that the girl was complaining of pain in her arm.
“When we brought her home, we were shocked to see that her arm was hanging loosely,” Farhana said. “We immediately took her to the emergency [ward] at Liaquat National Hospital.”
Interrupting his mother, Anwar said: “Our teacher would keep us in separate rooms and beat us when we did not do our work.”
Farhana said that when her children complained about the teacher’s violent behaviour, she spoke to Nabeela, who assured her that she would never hurt them.
Meanwhile, the tuition teacher and her husband have gone away and locked their house. Their mobile phones are also switched off. The family has yet to register a case with the police.
Regarding the incident, Suhail Ahmed Abro of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), said that corporal punishment is one of the most neglected problems in society. “Violent methods adopted by tutors or seminary teachers are not taken seriously by the victim families and often such matters are ignored,” he said.
Abro cited an example of a girl, who was beaten up by a cleric and had to be taken to Civil hospital, but the family refused to register a case against the seminary teacher.
According to SPARC, 54 cases of corporal punishment were reported in 2010 and the number rose to 74 in 2011.
However, Abro is optimistic that when the Sindh Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill would be passed by the Sindh Assembly, it will be effective to bring the rate of corporal punishment at educational institutions down.
* all names changed to protect privacy
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2012.