A judicial magistrate on Tuesday sent a schoolteacher on a 3 day judicial remand to jail for brutally torturing a student in Gilgit. Rafat Babar was a student of Grade 5. She barely would have been 10 years old and had to be taken to hospital. Hitting a child of that age to an extent that she succumbed to the injuries, says a lot about our societal inhumanity, and how little we care about the vulnerable. Reports suggest that the teacher belongs to an influential political family, who is using every possible mean to protect her and prevent the investigation from carrying onward. They have threatened the police who are involved in the investigation, the journalists who reported the story to TV channels, and claimed the child died because of other reasons.

This trend of abusing and torturing students is not new. While urban centres have ensured the removal of such practices, they are still prevalent in rural areas. Many also associate a teacher’s dedication to work with the hitting practices. However, as the system has progressed, people have failed to grasp the idea that learning through fear is counterproductive to the psychological development of the child.

The National Assembly passed a bill in 2013 which prohibited corporal punishment of children in educational institutions. Despite this, many schools and madrasas continue to dish out corporal punishment due to cultural acceptance. Corporal punishment at schools is a major factor that contributes to one of the highest dropout rates in the world. According to SPARC (an Islamabad based NGO), around 35,000 high school students in Pakistan drop out of the primary education system annually due to corporal punishment.

According to the SPARC, seventy cases of corporal punishment had been reported from 2011-2012 across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone, out of which 7 innocent children committed suicide due to the extremity of the punishment in Charsadda, Nowshera, Chitral and Timergara. It is harrowing to think how many cases may go unreported. No one is sitting up and taking notice, while innocent children do not have the means to protect themselves.