Added to the birth of Bangabandhu (March 17, 1920) and Independence Day (March 26, 1971), is another milestone in the history of Bangladesh - January 13, 2011.

On that date the Supreme Court of Bangladesh ruled that corporal punishment to children was abominably wrong and was a grave deterrent to the advancement of the nation.

And while corporal punishment was allowed to continue it would prevent Bangladesh from materializing the dream of Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu, to become Sonar Bangla.

The learned noble justices didn't actually say that last bit, but it stands to commonsense a nation may have all the material trappings and structures a world can provide, Padma bridges, Monorail et cetera, but if the people aren't happy and healthy, it would be a thin shell Sonar Bangla of little substance and little consequence.

Noble Justices

To protect the treasures... the supreme assets... the future of Bangladesh, Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Md. Sheikh Hassan Arif ruled that corporal punishment should be outlawed in all settings - schools, madrasahs and homes. If corporal punishment benefitted the nation - even just a little ­- they would have said the exact opposite. The fact remains, however, that no matter what name you give it - corporal punishment or discipline - its reality doesn't change. It's evil... it's child abuse.

The noble mental giants went on to declare it to be: "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child's fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom".

While their pronouncement in 2011 may have grabbed some good teachers, imams, and parents by the shoulders and given them a good 'wake-up' shake; it did not have the same effect on all teachers. The demonic evil still persists.

There were - and still are - a vast number who paid no attention whatsoever. Today you'll find children who've been severely beaten and damaged for life by 'teachers' and imams and who no longer attend school, scattered throughout many villages.

There's an old saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". If the 'teachers' were not taught how to teach properly in the beginning, it gives them some excuse. It comes under the heading IGNORANCE OF THE FACTS and they are not necessarily to blame. That is a flaw within the Department of Education.

But... but... but... there's also the human aspect to consider - the side allegedly aligned with Allah. What kind of people would inflict cruelty on innocent young children? Surely there's a point when compassion, humanity and their conscience would kick in and they become to know what they are doing is not only wrong, bad for the child and bad for themselves, but affects the entire society?

We know there are many 'teachers' within the system who should not be collecting salaries each month because they are not qualified to teach. When they arrived on day one at the school, they were most likely told they will 'pick it up' as they proceed. They themselves may possess an impressive Einstein level of knowledge on the subject, but if they can't teach it, what's the point of engaging them?

These 'teachers' are most likely to apply corporal punishment to the young hapless victims in their class, to cover up their own teaching inadequacies and accuse the children of being poor learners.

If some teachers and imams are incapable of teaching properly, they should be removed. They should not be allowed to damage the children and rob them of their opportunity for an education.

Our much beloved and internationally admired Sheikh Hasina - Prime Minister and seemingly surrogate, caring mother to the entire nation ­- has spoken in praise of the children of Bangladesh countless times. "Children are the future of Bangladesh," she has repeatedly said. One cannot argue against that point because it's a universal truth and applies to every nation on earth.

Any nation wise enough to realize that children are its future, however, would be careless or woefully amiss not to do all in its power to protect their most valued asset, as one would a priceless possession.

If we sincerely want to bring Bangabandhu's dream of Sonar Bangla to life, we first need to wake up to reality; protect children from the mental illnesses, heartbreaks, and tears caused by the despicable demonized corporal punishment. Corporal punishment must stop.

MEMO to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina... It's been a whopping and somewhat embarrassing, 13 years since the Supreme Court justices sought to have corporal punishment totally abolished in Bangladesh. Please make legislation against the horrific practice your No.1 priority. Thank you.

Joi Bangla!

Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, humanitarian, human rights activist Honorary Member of the Bangladesh Freedom Fighters and a foreign friend of Bangladesh.

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