When Zulfiqar accidently spilled a bottle of ink on his classmate, he couldn't have imagined that it would fundamentally alter the course of his school life. Following the incident, the 10th grade student was verbally reprimanded by his teacher at the High School Shah Yusuf in Shahpur, Sargodha, and was then beaten with a cane.

'I felt humiliated, insulted, fearful and in pain. I came home crying from school that day,' recalls Zulfiqar. Upon seeing the two-inch long scars and bruises across the 15-year-old schoolboy's body, Zulfiqar's father, Younus, reported the incident at a police station in Shahpur and also provided them with the requisite medico-legal certificate.

When the police refused to register a First Information Report (FIR), Younus lodged his complaint at the Punjab ombudsperson's regional office in Sargodha. When this plea also fell on deaf ears, Zulfiqar's father submitted an application to the National Commission on the Rights of Child (NCRC).

Finally, after receiving a letter from the NCRC, the local police lodged an FIR against the accused under section 328 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and 337L(2) PPC. However, the teacher, Mohammad Shabir, is currently out on bail. No other disciplinary action has been taken against him, and the case remains unresolved. Meanwhile, Zulifqar continues to feel alienated and helpless at his school.

Despite the lasting and harmful effects of corporal punishment on children and regular negative media coverage, it continues to be practised across Pakistan. Effective legislation, implementation and regulation is needed to put a stop to it


Unfortunately, such stories are fairly common in schools across Pakistan, despite constitutional provisions which safeguard the rights of children under Article 25-A and Article 25(3). Corporal punishment is a complex phenomenon which can become a major source of tension between pupils and teachers. It can lead to extreme stress, emotional trauma, physical injuries and, in some cases, suicide. The ramifications of such forms of violence were made evident earlier this year when a 10-year-old student named Zaineb succumbed to the head injuries she received at the hands of her school teacher in Muridke.

Corporal punishment is also a contributing factor for the high dropout rates in Pakistan's schools. The country has the world's second-highest number of out-of-school children, with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 not attending...

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