Ending corporal punishment

Published: September 18, 2019
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The inhumane practice of inflicting corporal punishment on students prevails in Pakistan, though it is banned in many other countries of the world. Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international rights organisation, has urged the Government of Pakistan to take measures to end corporal punishment in schools across the country. Mentioning the case of Hunain Bilal, a 17-year-old student in Lahore who died on Sept 5 of injuries after his teacher allegedly severely beat him, HRW called on the government 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 reports, Hunain had failed to memorise a lesson and his teacher punched him repeatedly, grabbed his hair and hit him against the wall. The teacher is reported to be in the habit of severely beating students and for this he was removed from the job, but returned after six months. The boy’s father has also claimed that his son was being harassed for non-payment of school fee. He said the fee was deposited on the day the boy died.

In a statement, HRW said Hunain’s death was the most recent and egregious instance 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 that they leave school. Pakistan faces an education emergency. Nearly 22.5 million Pakistan children are out of school, most of them girls, and corporal punishment remains a significant reason,” the statement said. Quoting data from Society for the Protection of the Rights of Child, HRW said it showed corporal punishment caused up to 35,000 children to drop out of school every year. It drew the government’s attention that the federal minister for human rights last year had proposed legislation seeking to end corporal punishment in the country. We should strive to establish a society where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. 

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2019.

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