International rights organisation, Human Rights Watch (HRW), has called on Pakistan’s government to take measures to end corporal punishment in schools across the country.
Citing the case of Hunain Bilal, a 17-year-old student in Lahore who died on September 5 of injuries inflicted by a teacher, HRW urged the government of Pakistan to “act urgently to end abuse in schools and create a safe environment for Pakistani children to learn without having to fear for their lives.”
According to accounts from fellow students, Hunain had failed to memorise a lesson and the teacher, Kamran, punched him repeatedly, grabbed his hair, hit his head against the wall.
Hunain’s father has also alleged that the school was inflicting mental punishment on his son by harassing him for non-payment of school fees, which were deposited the day Hunain died.
In its statement, HRW said Hunain’s death was the most recent and egregious example of the widespread problem of corporal punishment in Pakistan’s schools.
“Beatings leave students frightened, sometimes injured, and unable to learn effectively, making it more likely they will leave school,” read the statement.
“Pakistan faces an education emergency. Nearly 22.5 million Pakistani children are out of school, most of them girls, and corporal punishment remains a significant reason.”
HRW also quoted data from Pakistani child rights group, Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), which shows corporal punishment causes up to 35,000 Pakistani children to drop out of school every year.
“Pakistan has ratified international conventions prohibiting the use of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, both physical and mental. In Punjab province, the government and school officials are required to take disciplinary action against teachers who inflict violence, though that order is often ignored,” the HRW statement further states.
It also points out that Pakistan’s federal minister for human rights last year proposed legislation seeking to end corporal punishment in the country.