LAHORE - Punishment is preferred and accepted method to disciple and teaches children. Unfortunately, Pakistan is also one of those few countries in which section 89 of Pakistan Penal Code 1860, (No XLV) empowers parents, teachers and other guardians to use ‘moderate’ and ‘reasonable’ corporal punishment as a means to correct the behaviours of under 12 children. These views were shared by Sajjad Cheema, Regional Manager of Society for Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) while talking in a media briefing conducted here at a local on Monday. He said any state legislation could shape the attitude and practices of that society and hence an explicit ban on corporal punishment in all settings was of great importance. And that process, he said, must be supported by raising awareness on the harms of corporal punishment. “If corporal punishment is eliminated from home, it will support its elimination from all settings, and in connection with this, SPARC strongly suggests the need to repeal Section 89 of Pakistan Penal Code (1860), which allows a mild to moderate corporal punishment by the guardian to discipline a child below 12,” he said.

On the occasion, Sahiba Irfan, provincial program officer of SPARC shared findings of a report on corporal punishment ‘Five Years On: a global update on violence against children’. According to the report, across 37 countries, an average of 86% of children ages 2-14 experience physical or psychological violence in their home; 78 countries still authorize corporal punishment by teachers; in some countries up to 97 % of students have been beaten in schools. She also shared the findings of a study conducted by Plan Pakistan which found that corporal punishment was being used in both rural and urban settings with a prevalence rate of 89 percent in Punjab. The dropout rate during the first five years of education stands as 50 percent, one of the highest in the world. A study by UNICEF (2007) reported that 74 percent girls and 28 percent boys reported being ‘beaten’ as a disciplinary measure at home. Corporal punishment was also reported as a common practice in madrassahs, shelters and jails.

She also said that UN committee on the rights of the child showed serious concern regarding violence against children specifically corporal punishment.

Other speakers including media men also shared their views on how to eliminate corporal punishment.