14 February 2017 - Pakistan

Banning Corporal Punishment in the Sindh Province, Pakistan

Photo credit: Save the Children

After a decade of advocacy efforts by Save the Children and partners, physical and humiliating punishment (PHP) has been banned in Sindh province of Pakistan. PHP is the most common form of violence against children and can have devastating effects on their health and development.

In a 2014 survey[1], a staggering 80 percent of children aged 1-14 years living in the Sindh province, reported that they experienced psychological aggression or physical punishment during the last month. The Sindh province has a population of approximately 55 million people of which 44 percent are children.

Corporal punishment in schools in Pakistan is very common and a major factor behind one of the highest dropout rates in the world, an alarming 50 percent during the early years of education. The media in Pakistan has been reporting on an increasing number of extreme cases of corporal punishment in schools, that have left children with broken fingers and even paralysed.

The process towards the ban began in 2006, when the Government of Pakistan expressed its commitment to prohibiting all corporal punishment of children[2], following the UN Study on Violence against Children that revealed the shocking extent of the problem. In 2014, the Government reaffirmed its commitment to law reform by launching a national campaign against corporal punishment.

“While our work towards a National ban continues, the law change in the Sindh province is a huge advocacy success and important milestone. We can now focus on monitoring and demanding the implementation of the law. We will also work hard to build awareness and acceptance of the law among all stakeholders – including children, parents, teachers and authorities,” says Nayyar Iqbal, Country Director, Save the Children in Pakistan

Advocacy efforts to reach the ban have been led by the Child Rights Movement (CRM), a coalition of more than 300-member civil society organisations, that was established in 2008. Save the Children has been extending technical and financial support to CRM since 2012, to develop and implement their strategy and action plans to demand Child Rights in Pakistan.

Children played an important role in the work towards the ban, participating in child-led activities like meetings with decision makers and media briefings. Child Rights Clubs were established where children were trained and supported to demand their rights.

It is also important also to keep in mind that Save the Children has been supporting the efforts of the South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC), for several years, which comprises all the Member States of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Pakistan is one of the SAARC Members.

In Pakistan, and the world, PHP is a widely-accepted practice, believed to be an effective tool for disciplining children. We know it is not. No research has shown that corporal punishment enhances children’s development[3], on the contrary, it is detrimental for children’s development and can lead to serious physical and mental harm, including negative effects on brain development, chronic pain and depression.

As Save the Children, we work to change social norms and behavior in relation to corporal punishment of children by providing parents, caregivers and teachers with knowledge and skills to use violence-free, positive discipline methods. Learn more about our work to protect children from violence here: https://www.savethechildren.net/what-we-do/child-protection

Media Links:

[1] Sindh Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2014, Final Report. Karachi, Pakistan: Sindh Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF. (2015)  https://mics-surveys-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/MICS5/South%20Asia/Pakistan%20(Sindh)/2014/Final/Pakistan%20(Sindh)%202014%20MICS_English.pdf

[2] Bills at a federal level that include prohibition in some settings are under consideration: http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org/assets/pdfs/states-reports/Pakistan.pdf

[3] “Physical punishment of children: lessons from 20 years of research”, Durrant, J. & Ensom, R. (2012), Canadian Medical Association Journal, 6 February 2012  

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