12 years on, children cry for a corporal punishment ban07 January 2023
Sir Frank Peters :
In 2022 there were some stomach-churning, ultra sickening; deplorable acts performed on innocent children in various parts of South Asia. No doubt they suffered similar fate in other regions of the world, too.
The children's only 'crime' was being children. The fact that children are gifts from God gave them no protection. Had they been adults the abusers would have felt the full wrath of the law and most probably been given accommodation in jail to review their misdoings.
It's mind-boggling that throughout the world Presidents, Prime Ministers and Members of Parliament constantly remind us in sound bites that children are the future - the seedlings - of the nation and for the nation to prosper so much depends upon them. They're right, of course, but one cannot help but wonder if that is the case why aren't they given the protection they so desperately need.
Just because adults were born years before them and they themselves may have been unfortunate victims of bad experiences, that does not justify them making those who follow endure similar and suffer. There has to be a cut-off point.
Before any mistake can be rectified, it has first to be recognized as a mistake.
In many countries (including Bangladesh) it is against the law to strike an adult, but legal to hit a child! - How preposterous is that when you consider children are the most vulnerable members of society and if we are to believe politicians worldwide what we are regularly being told that children are the future of the nation. The mind boggles uncontrollably.
Bangladesh? - Just days ahead, on January 13, marks the 12th anniversary of when Bangladesh Supreme Court justices, Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hassan Arif recommended corporal punishment should be outlawed in Bangladesh. In their summary, the noble justices defined corporal punishment as 'cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child's fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom'.
With the sound of 'the children are the future of the nation' (if we sincerely believe it to be true and being of such enormous importance) continuously ringing in my ears, the mind boggles as to why a law banning corporal punishment has been given such low priority.
We all know by now, or at least we should know, that corporal punishment is totally without merit. Countless studies confirm that.
It is in no way related to discipline. Even as far back as over a century ago Nobel Laureate and eternal Rabindranath Tagore wrote: "To discipline means to teach, not to punish".
Corporal punishment is, was, and always will be a shameful act of child abuse and never anything else.
There are thousands of adults throughout the world who are suffering from mental and physical defects and lack of education because of the ignorance of those who believed corporal punishment to be discipline.
Anything born from, and propelled by, ignorance, just couldn't be good and contribute to a wholesome society. Building a structure with inferior material isn't a good idea.
We've seen many changes in Bangladesh for the better over the last decade or so. All could be considered by the world at large to be outward expressions of economic success.
In my humble opinion, however, all such structures irrespective of how beautiful to the eye they are now; are mere sandcastles, destined to decay and crumble if not maintained properly by future generations, as history shows.
To ensure their longevity and build upon what has already been accomplished, it is necessary to invest wisely in the 'future generations of the nation'.
If school itself cannot provide all children with world-class education - and no doubt one day it will - at least it shouldn't be allowed to damage the nation's prized possession mentally and physically.
As 12-years has passed since the honourable Supreme Court justices, Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hassan Arif declared corporal punishment non-beneficial to Bangladesh, it is my hope our most honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will take the necessary steps to outlaw it as soon as possible and add that to her ever-growing golden achievements list.
(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian, human rights activist Honorary Member of the Bangladesh Freedom Fighters and a foreign friend of Bangladesh).