Corporal Punishment: Studying in Fear

Corporal Punishment: Studying in Fear

When you live outside of Pakistan for a while, you see it in a whole new way. Certain elements within our society cease to make sense when we are exposed to foreign systems where basic human rights are far louder than tyranny or oppression. One of the West’s strongest attributes is their focus on honing and refining skills. Almost every occupation requires exclusive training and education. Teachers are not only expected to have degrees but are required to attend Teacher’s College for four years. It is extremely competitive and many don’t make the cut. The ones that do are trained in children’s psychology and aid in their development, not their demise.




In Pakistan, frustrated and unskilled teachers are hired to educate poor, deprived children in deteriorating schools with extremely weak infrastructures, if any at all. When I looked into why the drop out rate in public schools was so high in Pakistan, it turns out that whatever little recorded information there is on the subject, points to corporal punishment playing a major role in the lives of these children. In Canada hitting a child in school is unheard of, verbal communication is the only method used to reprimand them and if discrepancies are made, the penalties are severe.




Beatings, child abuse, strange, extreme punishments and physical assault have become culturally accepted practices in Pakistan. Both rural and urban settings have a high rate of children being hit and verbally abused. Pakistan tries to enforce a culture that is obedient, docile and respectful, but this respect is attained through fear and constant brainwashing. We are all aware of what happens in Madrassah’s and how children are chained, beaten and physically abused until their resolve is broken and their feelings are numbed. It is the worst form of violation a child can go through especially when he or she is at a physical disadvantage, unable to tackle obese, hard handed maulvi’s, parents, teachers and elders.




Some of the common methods used to attack children include, but are not limited to slapping, punching, pushing, choking, hair-pulling, and inflicting bruises and wounds with shoes, hangers, canes and belts. At times the beatings are continuous and children are left with heavy scarring and marks on their vulnerable bodies. In extreme cases children’s faces have been smashed into walls and desks. At times, children are sexually abused and much of this bigotry goes ignored.


Then there are severely bizarre cases like the one in Gujranwala where the principal not only painted the students faces with black ink, but the school’s management pulled surprising stunts like locking up a local journalist and harassing parents. Bones are broken and fractured, heavy bleeding occurs and there seems to be no fear of consequences on behalf of these deranged, lunatic adults. Kids rebel everywhere in the world and meeting their raging hormones with monstrous authority in no way eases their transitional pain.




Psychologists do not treat these children and hardly any studies are carried out with regards to their social development. Victims of mental and physical torture will grow to be psychologically disturbed and we have no one looking into that. Is it no surprise that Pakistan’s violence is bursting at the seams? Who are these bearded people with guns? Why are they destroying our nation? What kind of terror filled, raging, maniacal, suicidal wave is this that is seeping through the streets condemning the literate and the logical? Is there something dangerously wrong with the way we are raising our future generations? Perhaps our “beat the child” philosophies have failed to succeed in producing a healthy society and this trend of ignoring children and their rights will have to change if we are to hope for better citizens for Pakistan’s unpredictable tomorrow.

Mariam Magsi

A photographer, writer and curator working in Canada with a B.F.A from the University of Toronto. She tweets @mariammagsi and her blog can be viewed at She is the recipient of a prestigious award from the "World Poetry Movement" for her work highlighting natural disasters in Pakistan.

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  • Anonymous

    We are talking about Pakistani schools here – a long way to go before achieving the same rights as US kids as currently the right to basic ecuation is not yet implemented.

    Not that it is a justification, US schools do have a worrying record of gun violence in schools and the reasons behind this need to be looked at too!