Not even 500 days without corporal punishment
IT’S difficult to grasp that last Tuesday, May 29, marked the 500th day on which the Bangladesh High Court outlawed corporal punishment. 500 torture-free tearless days without corporal punishment in schools… could have been, should have been, but...
On January 13, 2011, in response to a petition lodged on July 18, 2010 by Barrister Sara Hossain on behalf of social conscience organisations Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust and its sister Human Rights organisation Ain o Salish Kendra, the High Court Divisional bench comprising Justice Md Imman Ali and Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif outlawed corporal punishment declaring it ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom.’
I know this because, Sayem Akbar, a 16-year-old victim of corporal punishment from Comilla wrote and told me. He has every reason to remember the special historic occasion. It was on that very day he was beaten so badly by a ‘teacher’ (maybe even at the very time the learned justices were handing down their wise decision) that he now finds it difficult to write.
‘My fingers don’t respond to my thoughts,’ he said. No doubt Sayem is not alone. Even today, 500 days later, if there were a Corporal Punishment Victims Club, there would be no shortage of new members, some mentally or physically damaged for life.
It is only natural that we look to the teaching profession, the people whom we respect, to play its part in grooming and preparing our children to join the society we want it to be as righteous law-abiding, respected and respectful members and for the teachers to teach good behaviour by example.
There is no place within the school system and modern society for cruelty, disrespect, torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment of any child. Dress it up with excuses and call it whatever you like, but that does not change corporal punishment from what it is: cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom.
Much progress has been made during the last 500 days to teach the ‘teachers’ proper, acceptable behaviour. The appalling story that hit world news about the ‘teacher’ at a madrassah in Dhaka who took a cooking spatula and branded 14 innocent Allah-fearing, Allah-loving 8-12-year-old girls said nothing in favour of the teaching profession in Bangladesh. While only one teacher was responsible for the evil deed, all teachers, unfortunately, were branded by the horrific action.
It’s time during this awesome season of honey month to add sweetness to the education system, for every headmaster/teacher to re-examine their own standards, that of their colleagues and to work from the same code of conduct manual that will benefit child and society.
To rid schools of corporal punishment is not a choice, it’s a responsibility, it’s the law, and it’s the right thing to do.
Sir Frank Peters
Former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award–winning writer
comments powered by Disqus