Home » News and Events » Bill against corporal punishment of children in capital passed by National Assembly
A significant triumph for child rights advocates took place as the National Assembly of Islamabad passed a bill against the use of corporal punishment on children. The ICT Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill, introduced by PML-N MPA Mehnaz Akbar Aziz, was enacted, and a government-introduced amendment was also ratified. This amendment permits complaints to be directly lodged in court, a departure from the previous requirement for complaints to be directed to a designated government committee.
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari explained that the updated bill now enables individuals to approach the court directly, as opposed to the earlier provision that mandated complaints to the government committee.
Shehzad Roy, the founder of Zindagi Trust, a non-governmental organization advocating for the education of working children, conveyed his elation regarding this development. He expressed gratitude to Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah, who had suspended Section 89 of the Pakistan Penal Code allowing corporal punishment "in good faith for the benefit". Roy's organization had petitioned for the abolishment of Section 89. He also acknowledged Shireen Mazari's contributions, as she personally appeared in court with a bill on corporal punishment.
Roy emphasized the significance of bipartisan support for this legislation and underscored the need to shift the prevalent mindset that associates violence with discipline. He highlighted that children often witness beatings at home before even attending school, contributing to a distorted perception of violence.
The activist stressed the necessity of teaching teachers how to manage children without resorting to violence, particularly in overcrowded classrooms. He mentioned that while videos of teachers' violent behavior circulated, they were often justified due to the previously permitted disciplinary measures.
With the new legislation in place, Roy called for widespread awareness campaigns to educate the public about non-violent methods of child management. While Sindh had already passed a similar prohibition in 2017, Zindagi Trust's press release highlighted the need for consistent implementation and awareness initiatives across the nation.
The key points of the bill include defining children as individuals under 18 years old, prohibiting violence against children in educational institutions and workplaces, categorizing various forms of physical violence against children as illegal, and ensuring the child's right to personal respect. The bill outlines severe consequences for violence against children, including demotion, suspension, dismissal, or retirement, and restricts future employment prospects for perpetrators of child abuse.
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