Stop physical torture and beatings of children at schools

A religious clerk in madrassah –cum- tuition centre in Karachi beaten to death an eight years old boy. Having endured regular beatings — the police say the child’s body showed signs of torture — the boy had refused to return to the seminary knowing the cleric in question would strike him again. When his parents forced him to return to the madrassah, the man allegedly beat him to death using a stick and other implements. The poor family refused to register a case against the clerk. We are continuing with medieval teaching methods in 21st century. It was a cold blooded murder committed on the name of teaching. But many people don’t consider it murder. They think, it is the divine right of a teacher to use violence and physical torture to discipline the students. This approach and thinking give free hand to teachers of both public schools and religious seminaries. We need to change this medieval mind set to stop this wide spread cruelty.

 Physical torture and beatings of children is common practice in Pakistani homes, schools, religious seminaries and workplaces. We teach violence, torture and abuse to our children at homes, religious seminaries and schools. Majority of working class and poor sections of the population are ignorant and illiterate and thus use abusive language and violence at homes with their children. So our children belonging to the poor and vulnerable sections of the society learn violence and abusive language from the homes and the streets in which they play.

 The government prohibited the corporal punishment and beatings in schools but this practice is still going on. The teachers still beat the students even for making small mistakes. Violence and physical torture is common teaching method. Even small private schools also use physical torture to discipline the young students.  The lower middle class and middle class become more aware and conscious regarding violence and physical beatings. We are a violent and abusive society. Even though capitalist relations and market forces penetrating the society but feudal culture and traditions are still dominating our social and cultural values. Children and women suffer the most as the most neglected, exploited and repressed section of the society.

We have not learnt anything from the past deaths and failed to bring in place a mechanism to stop these murders. When a child is repeatedly beaten and eventually brutally bludgeoned to death, it is a crime tantamount to murder. Though many of the laws forbidding corporal punishment do require amendment or repealing for impact at the implementation stage, last year, Sindh passed legislation prohibiting corporal punishment inflicted on children under 18 in workplaces, schools and educational institutions including seminaries. Given the rise in violent crime against children, it is imperative the state take legislative action while putting into motion public-awareness measures to protect child rights. We need to punish all those who still use physical torture and beatings to teach students.

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