Bill against corporal punishment of children passed by National Assembly

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A view of the National Assembly in session. — APP/File
  • Bill against corporal punishment of children passed in National Assembly
  • Includes amendment that allowed for complaints to be filed directly in court
  • Shehzad Roy, founder of petitioning organisation Zindagi Trust, says children, even before they go to school, see beatings at home at the hand of their parents; urges change in mindset

In a major victory for child’s rights activists, a bill against the corporal punishment of children was passed on Tuesday in the National Assembly.

The bill was presented by PML-N MPA Mehnaz Akbar Aziz.

An amendment in the bill presented by the government was also passed.

According to Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, with the amendment proposed by the government, it will now be possible for complainants to be filed in court.

“The previous version of bill stated that complaints must be made to the government committee formed for the purpose,” she said.

The human rights minister said that now the court can directly be approached.

Founder of the Zindagi Trust foundation, a non-governmental organisation that works for the education of working children, Shehzad Roy spoke to Geo News after the passing of the bill to share his joy over the development.

He thanked Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah who had suspended Section 89 of the Pakistan Penal Code in 2019 which allowed for the use of corporal punishment by parents, guardians and teachers “in good faith for the benefit”.

Roy said Zindagi Trust had petitioned for Section 89 to be abolished. “I also wish to thank Shireen Mazari who had personally appeared in court […] she herself had a bill on corporal punishment which could not progress in parliament due to some technicalities.”

He said it is a huge deal that the Opposition and the government had come together to pass the crucial legislation.

The activist lamented that children, even before they go to school, see beatings at home at the hand of their parents. “Children grow up with the idea that violence is necessary for discipline […] that’s where the violence that we see in society comes from.”

“The mindset that children need to be beaten to dissuade them from creating noise, or breaking things, etc. needs to be changed. Children will stop at the time but it creates very dangerous and long-term psychological damage,” he explained.

Roy said teachers will have to be taught how to manage children without the use of violence. He said that it is natural for teachers to feel frustrated when there are about a 100 children in one class, adding that there should not be more than 30 in a class.

He said that people would share videos of teachers beating children but since the law provided for such beatings, it would be (falsely) determined that the act was done “in good faith”.

With the law having been passed against corporal punishments, Roy said now mass awareness campaigns need to be run, to communicate how children can be managed without resorting to physical violence.

More to follow.

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