Sindh passes law to protect children from corporal punishment

Bill was presented in assembly last year but was sent to standing committee


Our Correspondent January 31, 2017
The law against corporal punishment will prosecute violators through the penal code. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Sindh Assembly unanimously passed on Tuesday a law that prohibits children from being physically beaten up.

The Sindh Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill, 2015, protects children from corporal punishment by any persons at work places, in all types of educational institutions, including madressas, and childcare institutions, including foster care and rehabilitation centres etc.

The private bill was moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Functional's Mahtab Akbar Rashdi, who defined corporal punishment as physical punishment in which physical force is used and causes some degree of pain or discomfort, or forcing a child to stay in uncomfortable positions, including mental abuse.

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"Whoever violates the law shall be liable to the punishment prescribed for the offences in Pakistan Penal Code," stated the law said. "The promotions of teachers or officials violating this law will be stopped for a specific period or they will be demoted to a lower post or time-scale, or to a lower stage in time scale." Teachers or officials involved in corporal punishment can be removed and dismissed from service as well.

After the legislation, the government has to prescribe a complaint procedure in coordination with other departments to entertain the complaints of corporal punishment by children or by any other person. "It will be mandatory for all private institutions to formulate a complaint system to address corporal punishment," stated the law.

At the time of registration, all private institutions will have to submit an undertaking in writing that they will be responsible for the formulation of the complaint system, failing which, their registration will be cancelled.

Earlier, Rashdi spoke at length about how children face torture in schools. This bill was presented in the assembly last year but it was referred to the standing committee for feedback.

Resolution passed

The assembly also adopted a resolution regarding polio vaccination cards to be made mandatory at the time of admissions at all public and private primary and secondary schools across Sindh. The resolution was moved by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Dr Seema Zia.

Meanwhile, Muttahida Qaumi Movement's (MQM) Waqar Hussain Shah tabled a resolution to take measures to launch awareness campaigns against dengue fever in the province. This resolution was also passed. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's Syed Ameer Hyder Shah Sheerazi spoke against the discrimination in the selection process of the cricket board and moved a resolution demanding the selection of cricketers on merit. "There is immense talent in Sindh but cricket players are selected from Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa," he said. His remarks were endorsed by all members in the assembly and the resolution was passed unanimously.

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MQM's Naila Munir raised the issue of load-shedding and moved a resolution to initiate a model solar energy project to avoid the menace in Sindh. This resolution was also passed by the house.

Rashdi moved a resolution demanding the formulation of policies on education for the youth. "The Sindh government has announced education emergency in the province but the authorities have yet to issue a notification," she said.

MQM's Kamran Akhtar of MQM criticised the federal government for enhancing the prices of petroleum products. He urged the government undo this decision. Parliamentary affairs minister Nisar Khuhro endorsed the resolution. The federal government is not giving sympathetic consideration to public problems, he said. Rather, it makes anti-people decisions. Later, the deputy speaker adjourned the session till Wednesday (today).

Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2017.

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