Bangladesh High Court bans corporal punishment in schools



Dhaka: Bangladesh's High Court on Thursday declared "illegal and unconstitutional" all types of corporal punishment in schools, reinforcing a 2010 government circular which banned such practices in educational institutions.

A High Court bench comprising judges Mohammad Imman Ali and Sheikh Hasan Arif came up with the judgment. They asked the government to enforce a guideline, which was formulated last year to ban all kinds of corporal punishment.

The circular sought legal action against teachers who hand down corporal punishments to their students.

The verdict came as rights groups Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) in June 2010 filed a public interest litigation seeking necessary directives on the government to stop cruel and inhuman punishment for the students.

The government, however, in August 2010 reinforced a ban on physical punishment to school children issuing a circular against the backdrop of frequent media reports of children's exposure to corporal punishments.

"It has been noticed that teachers of some educational institutions impose inhuman punishments on the students for various reasons including violation of discipline and negligence in study. The school management committees will identify the teachers," the August circular said.

The government circular also said the violation of the order would be treated as "misconduct" on the part of the teachers who could also be exposed to justice under Child Act or at least departmental actions.

Officials said corporal punishment like canning in schools was banned under a 1995 law, while it was supplemented by a subsequent High Court order and another government directive issued in 2008.

But a UNICEF study two years ago said nine out of 10 children in the country were physically beaten in schools.

In a last such major incident a 10 year old school student in July 2010 committed suicide after being exposed to such heavy punishment at a Dhaka school.

Authorities in March last year ordered an investigation as a teacher's cruelty sent eight children, aged between seven and 11, to hospital in southeastern Feni after they were severely canned by their headmistress for forgetting to bring colour pencils in the class.

The incident subsequently prompted the High Court to issue an interim order to stop beating in schools on writ petitions by BLAST and ASK.

PTI