=> IF the death of 14-year-old Mudassar Aslam, the vi
IF the death of 14-year-old Mudassar Aslam, the victim of corporal punishment at a school in Hyderabad, doesn’t shake the authorities out of their apathy to conduct a full and transparent inquiry into his case then one can assume that the government remains indifferent to violence against children. Young Mudassar’s case was particularly traumatic. Physically punished last November, allegedly by his teacher Buland Iqbal, he died of the intestinal injuries he incurred. Hailing from a poor family, Mudassar has not received the justice that was due to him. The inquiry in his case remains incomplete on the flimsy pretext of his parents’ statement not being available. It is quite likely that, if investigated honestly, a darker truth will emerge. Unfortunately, the crucial issue of corporal punishment has been ignored for far too long. Considering the number of such cases that occur across the country, in public and private schools, madressahs, workplaces and homes, it is surprising that investigations should be so flawed and the conviction rate so low. By not giving exemplary punishment to those who torment children, the government is encouraging violence as its perpetrators remain confident that money and influence can buy off or restrain those tasked with probing such incidents. Suspension from duty, as in the case of Mudassar’s alleged torturer, is a small price to pay. Perhaps this is not surprising given the absence of a comprehensive child protection law.
Society is also to blame for failing to recognise children’s vulnerability to abuse and exploitation and to speak up in their defence. Those who do have been unable to form a strong collective forum for the matter to be actively discussed in parliament and legislated accordingly. If results can be achieved by raising a collective voice for women’s rights, why can’t the same force of argument and action be applied in the case of our children to protect them from harm to their bodies and emotions? Why are we continuing to prolong the wait for policies, laws and a change in attitude that would transform the lives of Pakistan’s child population? Unless we take timely action, generations of children will continue to suffer and as adults many will perpetuate violence against children.