A gift to Pakistan's children, says Shehzad Roy on corporal punishment being banned in Islamabad

A gift to Pakistan's children, says Shehzad Roy on corporal punishment being banned in Islamabad

Protect your children, urges the singer. 'Teach them, don’t severely punish them'
Updated 25 Feb, 2021

In a historic move for Pakistan, the National Assembly passed on Tuesday, a bill banning all forms of corporal punishment in Islamabad — recognising its vile consequences against children's fundamental rights to dignity, protection, development and survival.

According to the law which will now be making its way to the Senate, teachers and guardians will be penalised for hurt inflicted upon children, "however light," regardless of intention or whether the administered violence was "in good faith" or “for the benefit” of the child.

Musician and humanitarian Shehzad Roy, who has been at the forefront of advocating against the abuse of children and campaigning to get the practice banned since his educational TV show in 2013, spoke about why the issue was so important.

"When we were in school, there was a pitai [beating] culture," he tells Images. "I would not like to take any names, but all of us have gotten beaten up at one point or another.

"It was after I became the goodwill ambassador for United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and held a concert at the Karachi Central Jail that I spoke to children there. Most of them said we didn’t get beaten up, because they considered only bloody head injuries, or vicious punches forms of violence."

According to the singer, when children are inflicted with physical punishments, society is telling them — and an entire generation — that violence is a valid means of resolving a problem.

"When a child is born, he is beaten up by his parents. When he goes to schools or madressahs to receive education, he is beaten up by the teachers and then eventually mercilessly by the police. He witnesses that if anything needs to be fixed, violence is considered the only solution, the only way. This is why I cannot stress on this enough — protect your children. Teach them, don’t severely punish them," he says.

Roy, who in recent weeks urged key lawmakers including National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to urgently hear the bill, was overjoyed at the development.

"It's my best gift to the children in Pakistan," he tells me, with a kind of contentment in his voice that feels surreal.

When asked about how he feels the law would be implemented in Pakistan, he was hopeful that a promising future lies ahead.

"A visible change since 2012 that I have been noticing is that previously if an adult beat up a child, people would make videos. Those videos would be circulated, shared on social media and the culprit would be caught. However, they would eventually release him in ‘good faith'. But now, there is no releasing those culprits who are inflicting violence," he says.

He also reiterated how passing the bill was not the ultimate solution to the plethora of problems stemming from corporal punishment. Reform, he says, is always an unfinished business.

“Child protection units and social welfare departments need to be equally strengthened,” he pointed out, adding that the tougher fight is to incorporate skill-based education in our curriculums.

The Laga Reh singer leads by example and has already taken the first step. Through Durbeen, a non-profit organisation established with the long-term goal of improving public schools in the country, he is looking forward to improving the education system and laying foundations for a safer, more kinder Pakistan.

“Always remember that safe sex education and educating your child on sexual abuse are two different things," he says. "Nowhere in Pakistan does a child know that no doctor should be evaluating his body without the presence of a guardian. No book teaches you that. These are the sensitivities that children need to be made aware of."

Thus, while he looks at the bill as a positive advancement, he feels there is still a lot left to do.

Mass awareness campaigns that sensitise educators and caretakers to the harms of corporal punishment and educate them about healthy alternatives like positive disciplining, lie at the core of those priorities.

“All interventions need to be made on a national level. There are still too many issues that need to be fixed," he sighs.


M.S Feb 24, 2021 06:44pm
SUPERB EFFORT! YOU ROCK SIR! Is the Law just for Islamabad or the entire Country? I ask as the article makes it seem that it only in the Capital where its implementation will be in effect.
Recommend (0)
well-wisher Feb 24, 2021 06:47pm
Shehzad you are a trailblazer and an example of positive reforms for children in PK and the world over. PK children need laws for their protection and growth. Thank you lawmakers of PK AND please enforce them. I need to hear from celebs and politicians and the people.
Recommend (0)
Ibrahim S Feb 24, 2021 07:09pm
To ruin a generation, the best way is to humiliate them , punish them. No wonder we love violence .
Recommend (0)
Irfan ul Huq Feb 24, 2021 07:23pm
Violence is not limited to the children. Violence has become norm of is displayed in our culture in our TV dramas as well , and considered normal.recently watched a TV drama "Fitoor"in the 1st 4 episodes the brother slap the his grown up sister twice father slap grown up son once . we are telling the society that on certain occasions it is OK to hit another person and I think that is assault and battery where even touching another person without his permission should be considered assault.
Recommend (0)
Imtiaz Syed New York Feb 24, 2021 07:47pm
Ridiculous!!!!! The ban for children corporal punishment ought be for entire Pakistan and not for Islamabad only. Parliamentarians need to learn how to make laws.
Recommend (0)
Zak Feb 24, 2021 08:08pm
Salute to Shezad Roy.
Recommend (0)
Zia Feb 24, 2021 09:30pm
All credit goes to Shazad Roy for his tremendous effort and due diligence!
Recommend (0)
Marquis de Sade Feb 24, 2021 09:42pm
24x7 CCTVs in all schools? Starting with Madrasas? No chance.
Recommend (0)
Adil Murad Feb 24, 2021 11:19pm
I never missed my school days just because of that. Those were not teachers but butchers. Parents are equally partner in crime. Instead of protecting their children they let them suffer at the hands of merciless beasts who have no respect and love for children. Very good initiative. A real celebrity indeed.
Recommend (0)
Syed A. Mateen Feb 25, 2021 12:05am
Beating is not only restricted upto children but it is extended to wife, sister(s), daughter(s), grown up son(s) and other immediate family members. If I don't mince words beating a human being describes as how violent our society is. Roy's efforts are commendable but at the same time we need to extend the law of "not beating any one" upto police stations where police arrest people and beat them so severely that they die in police custody which comes under extra judicial killing. The most important task is how to correct the mistake of the children who are often mischievous due to their age factor. I put full weight between the dividing line as what is right and what is wrong. People should know their limitations in every sphere of life and should not cross the dividing line. It has become necessary to describe the dividing line as nowadays right has become wrong and wrong has become right for majority of people whether it is due to economic compulsion of an individual family.
Recommend (0)
Bilal Khan Feb 25, 2021 03:55am
Why just in Islamabad? The children in rest of pakistan are different?
Recommend (0)
Mahmood Shah Feb 25, 2021 05:08am
Can't understand, why the just for Islamabad? Reflects badly on the caliber of the lawmakers. Ban it all across the country, madrassas included!
Recommend (0)
Arshad Feb 25, 2021 06:47am
Finally some good work by PTI.
Recommend (0)
AW Feb 25, 2021 12:11pm
Small correction is due - it is not a gift , it is a fundamental human right of children which has been recognized by the law. No child and no person deserves to be physically or emotionally abused.
Recommend (0)
Zia Feb 25, 2021 03:56pm
This bill should have applied for all five provinces of Pakistan and not just for Isalamabad. I truly did not understand the logic behind it?
Recommend (0)
Zia Feb 25, 2021 04:48pm
@AW You are absolutely right!
Recommend (0)