Pakistani court suspends corporal punishment for children ‘in good faith for their benefit’

On Thursday, the Islamabad High Court suspended Section 89 of the Pakistan Penal Court, which deals with the power parents, teachers, and legal guardians have over children. The section in question says that “Nothing which is done in good faith for the benefit of a person under twelve years of age… is an offence by reason of any harm which it may cause.”

The decision came as the result of a petition by famous pop singer and human rights campaigner Shehzad Roy, who set up an organization for education reform.
He argued that Section 89 is an “unconstitutional colonial-era law” that allows the use of violence in order to discipline students. This provision has drawn criticism from human rights groups in the past, since the problem of corporal punishment remains persistent in Pakistani schools.

In 2017, Pakistan’s Sindh region adopted a law protecting children from being subjected to corporal punishment in all types of schools, as well as at work and in care centers. Several bills tackling corporal punishment of minors have been introduced in the nation’s parliament in recent years.

Roy’s lawyer told the court that his plea was partially inspired by the death of a student last September. A teenager in the city of Lahore was allegedly beaten to death by a teacher for failing to memorize a lesson.

Section 89 has been suspended until further notice. The government now has until March 5 to reply to Roy’s petition.

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