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Banning Corporal Punishment



YET another incident of harsh corporal punishment being administered to a child was reported.  Six-year-old Mohammed Ashar, a student of a private school in Karachi, received serious injuries to his back when he was beaten with a hard, blunt object allegedly by his principal. Earlier in the day, the latter had reportedly slapped the child for walking home, instead of taking the school transport. It is important for the education authorities to investigate the matter and bring the guilty to book - not only for flouting the provincial ban on corporal punishment, but also for indulging in an act of utter barbarity aimed at breaking the child’s spirit. It is a wonder that instead of protecting the vulnerability and innocence of our children, schools — more particularly the madressahs where religious instructors inflict serious harm on the minds and bodies of the students — often resort to physical punishment in order to discipline the child. 

Studies show how painful and degrading punishments can be for young victims, many of whom grow up to become violent adults with diminished intellectual abilities. While lacking confidence in themselves, they see nothing wrong in resorting to aggressive acts against those reluctant to resist them. What such acts and tendencies do to the psyche of a nation can well be imagined. Provincial bans on corporal punishment, while indicating the seriousness of the matter and the government’s resolve to tackle the problem, are not enough. Apart from a public debate, there must be comprehensive legislation on the subject, and parliament, which includes members affiliated with madressahs known to be abusing children in a variety of ways, would be well advised to take up the 

issue. As it is, given the widespread poverty and deprivation in the country, our children are denied several rights. To further expose them to this sort of cruelty and harshness is an ultimate form of apathy.