POST TIME: 19 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Corporal punishment cannot be justified
However, there is no denying that corporal punishment is definitely a morally degraded act and thus, this sordid practice should be abolished fully in no time
Tahsina Islam

Corporal punishment cannot be justified

There have been a lot of talks regarding mistakenly equating corporal punishment to the trait of being well behaved for a pretty long period of time. To be more plainspoken, most of the people try to establish corporal punishment as an effective way to make a child disciplined. Nevertheless, it is not only home where corporal punishment can take place. Different educational institutions also practice this sleazy act on the minors globally and thus, the scenario in Bangladesh is also no different. However, there is no denying that corporal punishment is definitely a morally degraded act and thus, this sordid practice should be abolished fully in no time.

Teaching children manners or how to behave properly, how to make good choices and overall how to make himself/herself as a standard human being in the society is an undeniable part of rearing a child. Children cannot be taught in an inductive approach because of their mental development and capacity thus their teaching part starts primarily from home, through their parents and it takes a little time.

However, many parents believe to punish their children physically to accomplish their desired goals of the things they want to teach. In their words (who consider corporal punishment as a fruitful strategy), ‘it will help them to learn faster ‘but one thing is covert in this statement i.e. ‘It will help them to learn faster out of fear/pressure’.

Obviously, every parent wants their children to be a best kind of human being. But, what they do not realize is the strategy they are thinking effective, can be proved injurious to the child’s life in the long run. Again, as it has been mentioned earlier, this ‘effective’ strategy of teaching discipline also occurs in many schools and madrasas of Bangladesh where the minors are the main victims. It will not be wrong to repeat, corporal punishment is in no way helpful rather it is very harmful for the development of a child because it has long term effects like- aggression, lower intellectual development, mental health problems  mostly, depression. For example, in school, the little kids may be studious and well disciplined out of the fears of the teachers from whom they get beaten but very few people are seen to question this. Rarely people are seen to query if it is coming spontaneously from them or they are doing it out of pressure and fear.

It will be a rare phenomenon if a person says that he/she has never faced punishment from teachers like- getting beaten with cane, standing before the class holding ears even standing in the scorching sun in schools or madrasas. There are also worst cases like --a child’s losing his/her eyesight because a teacher threw a duster to that child that hit one of that child’s eyes.

 Likewise, the scenario of corporal punishment in madrasa has also similarity like these schools’ and in many cases, even way more acute. There are even cases of children dying because of the torture inflicted by madrasa teachers. Readers very often come across news like madrasa students being horrifically beaten, chained and locked in rooms and left heedlessly without any food. Many times, children are seen to have their jaws, fingers, legs broken and their sense of hearing even weakens due the unbearable torture.

We often forget that children too have feelings. They also have pride. Again, can this be acceptable that an adult can abuse, kick, pull hair, twist ear or abuse any child in any other disgraceful ways? The answer is no because it is unimaginable what kind of mental disturbance corporal punishment can cause to a child.

Corporal punishment in schools can also be referred to causing emotional discomfort to a student in response to correct a certain behaviour or attitude of that student. However, in most cases it does not do any good rather making the students emotionally vulnerable to a great extent that they can commit suicide too.  One evident example can be the death of a school girl named Aritri from a prominent school of Dhaka. Aritri committed suicide a year back because her parents were allegedly humiliated by her school teachers. There are surely more cases like this and there is no way to be reluctant regarding these occurrences because it certainly provokes horror of how deleterious this corporal punishment can prove to be.

A few days back, on my way home at night, I came across a boy wearing kurta, payjama and Islamic cap making it easier for me to understand he was from madrasa. I was rather shaken like many to know he escaped from a madrasa, situated in Sylhet and came to Dhaka all alone because of the extreme torture of the madrasa teachers there. There has been also reports like madrasa students get their hands/legs seared with hot spatula by the madrasa teachers saying “fire from jahannam/hell is hotter’’. The reasons in most cases are-- not praying in time, being late to memorize the verses of the holy Quran and being sleepy while reading. One positive step taken by Bangladesh High Court is banning corporal punishment in schools saying it violates the constitutional rights of the children.  This took place on 18th July, 2010 and the petitioners were BLAST and ASK who challenged the systematic failure of the government to take proper action against the allegation of corporal punishment in primary, secondary schools and madrasas.

However, still this bad culture is not fully uprooted from our society because it is sort of deeply rooted here. But, if we all work together to implement the law this sordid act can be demolished. This is more of a unified effort to make people aware of the vulnerabilities of corporal punishment and this is high time to raise voice because we must protect the rights of every child.

The writer is a journalist working for

The Independent