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Putting an end to corporal punishment... By Fazal

15 March, 2013

Though people-friendly initiatives of the public representatives in this country have been a rare phenomenon, yet the few initiatives that have been taken by them in greater public interest must be acknowledged and appreciated wholeheartedly. The legislators of Pakistan have, at the end of their tenure, unanimously passed "The Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill 2013".

This vital bill was tabled in the National Assembly of Pakistan by Dr Attiya Inayatullah, an eminent member of the national parliament, on March 12, 2013. As published in a cross section of Pakistan's print media, the referenced bill categorically stipulates that any person who is guilty of inflicting corporal punishment on a child shall be punishable with imprisonment extending up to a maximum period of one year or fine up to Rs 50,000, or both. The bill provides for prohibition of corporal punishment of children in educational institutions. The punishment shall be in addition to any punishment arising out of hurt or injury and caused by corporal punishment under other applicable laws.

Corporal punishment of children in schools has been going on unabated despite extensive exposure of this heinous crime by the country's print and electronic media. This highly condemnable offense has acquired critical dimensions particularly in institutions located in rural or less developed areas of the country. The impact of corporal punishment on the impressionable minds and bodies of the child victims is enormous. It phenomenally retards the thinking process of the victimised children and deeply entrenches the element of fear in them.

Very sadly, however, this very important factor has always been brazenly overlooked by those who are supposed to be the mentors of these young and innocent children. Child rights and human rights bodies, like the media, kept bringing instances of such criminal offenses to the fore but the perpetrators of the crime somehow escape the punishment they rightfully deserved. This has naturally emboldened them and they continue to perform their barbaric act of torturing children unabashedly. The incumbent legislators of Pakistan merit accolades for a job well done. Unquestionably, the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill 2013, unanimously passed by them, is an extremely important step taken in the larger public interest. It surely will go a long way in bringing an end to the heinous crime of corporal punishment in Pakistan.

M FAZAL ELAHI
Islamabad

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