It prohibits all forms of physical punishment at schools, madrassas
The use of force or hurting children in educational institutions could soon become a criminal offense as the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights approved on Tuesday the prohibition of corporal punishment act.
This act, once passed by the Senate, will initially be implemented in Islamabad while provinces will be required to take it as model legislation.
It will become a law after Senate passes it and the president signs it.
“The Senate committee for human rights has approved the bill after proposed changes by the NA,” said Senator Waleed Iqbal.
The bill prohibits all forms of corporal punishment of children in the following places:
According to the bill, “any punishments in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however, light it may be, which may involve hitting (smacking, slapping, spanking)” will be subject to criminal proceedings against the violator.
Disciplinary measures concerning the child may only be taken in accordance with the child’s dignity and under no circumstances shall the infliction of any kind of corporal punishment on a child be allowed, the proposed bill reads.
The violators shall be liable to the punishments prescribed for the related offenses in the Pakistan Penal Code that include Sections 351 (assault), 332 (hurt) and 350 (criminal force) of the PPC.
Those found guilty can appeal against the conviction with the federal ombudsman.
The bill proposes that the ministry of education and Wifaqul Madaris to form committees for schools and madrassas. Each committee will have three members and one of them have to be a woman.
The committees will have to decide on a complaint within 30 days.
The bill was initially passed by the National Assembly in February this year. It was tabled by PML-N MNA Mehnaz Akbar Aziz. The new law would also cancel provisions of Section 89 of the PPC that allow teachers and guardians to administer physical punishment “in good faith” and “for the benefit” of the child. It allows the authorities to sack or suspend those violating the law.
Aziz said the new law alone won’t be enough to protect children. “The mindset that legitimizes corporal punishment needs to be changed through informative awareness campaigns,” she said.
Various human rights organizations and rights activists have long been advocating for a law to criminalize corporal punishment.
Renowned singer and founder of Zindagi Trust Shehzad Roy had filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court against corporal punishment in educational institutions. On his petition, the court had banned such punishments.
“When a child gets physical punishment, society is telling them – and an entire generation – that violence is a valid means of resolving a problem,” Roy said after the assembly passed the bill. “This law will not just protect our children but also lay the foundation for a safer, kinder and more peaceful Pakistan.”
There is a need to launch a mass awareness campaign to tell educators and caretakers that corporal punishment is harmful for children and there are other healthy ways to discipline them, he added.