The Sindh government criminalizes corporal punishment, mental torture, and abuse against the children and pupils under the Sindh Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Act 2016 at schools, workplaces, and religious seminaries.

On Monday, the School Education and Literacy Department has notified the rules of the Act banning all sorts of physical and mental violence against children and students. According to the rules, the educational institutes will make sure protection and safety of the children. They would also take all possible measures to protect and prevent a child from corporal and physical punishment or abuse.

“No child or students shall be harmed physically, mentally or emotionally, or abuse by any person employed in the institution, which may affect the mental or physical growth of a student or child”.

Child Protection Committees at Schools

According to the law, the educational institutions will be bound to constitute at least one or more Child Protection Committee to strictly implement the rules in true spirit. The committee would be inclusive of the head of the institute, representatives of the concerned departments regulating the educational institutions, parents or guardians of the child.

The committee will investigate all complaints about the allegations of violence against the children and students. Also, it would protect the affected children and will provide every possible emotional, psychological, physical and mental support needed by the children being subjected to corporal and physical punishment or abuse.

The committee will also identify requirements to keep a child safe in consultation with the District Coordination Committee. Along with maintaining a proper record, the committee will organize awareness sessions for children to provide them information about child rights and the prohibition of corporal punishment.

The procedure of complaint registration

The parents, children or any individual can be entitled to fill a form with the application for registering his complaint with the child protection committee. The committee will also adhere to consider anonymous complaints of corporal or physical punishment or abuse.

Likewise, the education department would maintain an online compliant procedure through its website for the ease of contact by the public at large and it would post all laws, rules, reports, instructions, and any other documents related to corporal punishment.

After the receipt of a complaint, the head of the committee will share the same application and form with other members of the committee. Thereafter they will start an investigation to decide the complaint within fifteen days. However, after recording its findings and decision on a complaint, the committee will refer the case to the concerned department to take necessary action accordingly.

If the committee has no solution or failed to find any relevant clause in the Sindh Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Act 2016, it would immediately inform the Police, Child Helpline 1121 or relevant Child Protection Officer of the Sindh Child Protection Authority for urgent action under the applicable laws.

Confidentiality of investigation

According to the notified rules, an inquiry of the corporal or physical punishment or abuse should be conducted in a manner protecting the confidentiality of the child and maintains the integrity of the procedure.

If any child, who has been subjected to corporal or physical punishment or abuse needs protection and safe accommodation, the Social Welfare Department and its Child Protection Units would make arrangements for that child or student.

Punishment for committing an offense

Any person who abets, attempts, incites, assists, or directly commits the act of violence against children or students would be punished according to sections 334 and 336 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

According to section 334 of the PPC, whoever by doing any act with the intention of causing hurt to any person shall be punished with qisas. And if the qisas is not executable, keeping in view the principles of equality, the offender would be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years”.

Similarly, section 336 of the PPC states; “Whoever causes hurt by corrosive substance shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description which shall not be less than fourteen years and a minimum fine of one million rupees”.

On repeating the offense, the offender who has been punished once under the Act, should be liable to additional punishment and fine as determined by the court of competent jurisdiction. The fine recovered from the offenders should be realized by the parent or guardian who will be bound to utilize the fine amount for the rehabilitation of the victim child. However, for any dispute which arises with regards to the interpretation of rules, the orders of the concerned minister or advisor should be final.

Author

Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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