Islamabad: Pakistan’s National Assembly has passed the ‘Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill’ that bans corporal punishment in all forms or shapes at educational institutions and seminaries of the capital.
The bill was moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Member of the National Assembly Mehnaz Akbar Aziz and was supported by both the ruling and the opposition members of the house. The bill had been waiting approval of the National Assembly since 2019 after a standing committee passed it.
Then it was sent to another committee for deliberation. Recently, the main motivator of the bill, Founder of Zindgi Trust and children’s rights activist, Shehzad Roy, raised the issue on social media and even held a meeting with the Speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaiser seeking his help in its speedy passage.
'Great news' for children
After passage of the bill by the National Assembly, Roy posted a tweet and a video message on Wednesday and shared the ‘great news’ with children of schools and seminaries that they would no longer face physical punishment or bullying at school.
In his video message Shehzad Roy addressed and warned all the teachers accustomed to thrashing children at schools that they could lose their job for doing this as the National Assembly had passed the anti-corporal punishment bill.
Applicable only to federal institutions
The bill that is applicable in the federal government-administered territories and educational institutes explains any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light it may be, is strictly forbidden.
The bill further explains the term ‘punishment’ saying, “It may involve hitting (smacking, slapping, spanking) a child with the hand or with an implement (a whip, stick, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc.”
Forcing a child to uncomfortable condition
According to the ‘ICT Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill’ says kicking, shaking or throwing a child, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing the ears were also corporal and physical punishment.
The bill says forcing a child to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion, for example, washing a child’s mouth out with soap or forcing him to swallow hot spices were also punishment.
No concept of ‘punishment in good faith’
Teachers are to be penalised for assault and hurt inflicted upon children regardless of intention, the bill states and cancels the provisions of Section 89 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) which allowed teachers and guardians to administer physical punishment “in good faith” and “for the benefit” of the child.
Before the passage of the bill, Minister for Human Rights (HR) Dr Shireen Mazari presented an amendment under which complaints put forward by children would be brought before a court or a magistrate. Since education is a provincial subject according to the 18th Amendment of the Constitution, the provincial legislatures are also likely to take up the bill after the upcoming Senate elections dated March 3, 2021.