SIR FRANK PETERS :: On the eve of the FIFA World Cup, Brazil has unshackled itself from its horrific past wrongs, turned over a new leaf, and become the 38th country in the world to ban corporal punishment to children in the home, schools and madrasahs.
But any child in Brazil who reads this ‘wonderful news’ on the Internet should not build their hopes up too soon, if the teachers in Brazil are as bad as the reprehensible law-breaking ‘teachers’ there are Bangladesh.
On January 13, 2011 the Bangladesh High Court Divisional bench superheroes Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Md Sheikh Hasan Arif introduced a similar anti corporal punishment law in Bangladesh.
The good justices described the barbaric practice as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom”.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child defines corporal punishment as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however slight,” and it calls physical punishment “invariably degrading”.
Could the facts be stated any clearer than that? Even an unqualified, academically ignorant ‘teacher’ who acquired his or her position through the notorious brown-envelope method of employment in a remote Bangladeshi village would understand the importance and significance of the ruling. Or at least abide by the law and set a good example.
Since the law was introduced in Bangladesh there’s been change for the good. There hasn’t been one teenage suicide attributed to corporal punishment, but a lot more needs to be done. There’s still a rogue element among the teaching fraternity who seems to be hell-bent on bringing down the entire teaching profession to their gutter level of ignorance and shame.
While that carries much disgrace, what does it say for their colleagues who remain silent and allow the children to be beaten, kicked and slapped about at the whim of these illiterates, sadists, or both?
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – Irish statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797).
Put aside the overwhelming evidence against corporal punishment momentarily, allow your common sense to kick-in and ask yourself how could beating, hitting, kicking, punching, pinching, pulling their ears or their hair and brutalising a child help make that child love and respect you – or the society that condones it?
The damaged children of today are the broken adults of tomorrow who will hold no love or respect for anyone, not even themselves. Give them a political banner to carry and, sadly, they think their havoc and destruction are serving the good of the nation and bringing them honour and respect.
The rot must stop not just to benefit the children; but each and every one of us, individually and collectively. Who wants to be terrorized, live in fear, mugged, beaten, knifed or beaten with a cricket bat and have their property destroyed by damaged adults when it can be prevented? A society reaps what it sows.
Corporal punishment is the ugly festering scab on the Bangladesh education system that some ‘teachers’ are agitating through their ignorance or disregard for law. The healing process begins in the schools with each and every teacher simply abiding by the law, whether they personally agree with it or not.
Congratulations to Brazil on becoming No. 38 on the civilized nations list.
(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, a humanitarian, human rights activist, a royal Goodwill Ambassadorand a caring foreign friend of Bangladesh)