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Child protection: Bill endorses abolishing corporal punishment

ISLAMABAD: A bill has proposed complete abolishment of ‘corporal punishment’ for children and whoever found involved should be punished with imprisonment for six months or with fine up to Rs50,000 or both.

“Corporal punishment stands abolished in all its kinds and manifestations and its practices in any form is prohibited,” says the draft bill on the protection of child.

In compliance with the Supreme Court’s July 3 order in minor Tayyaba torture case, a bill has been prepared with recommendations of a committee constituted by the apex court.

Similarly, taking into account absence of a law against domestic child labour and noting numerous existing laws pertaining to child labour and employment with lacunas, contradictions and non-uniformity, the apex court in its last order had constituted a committee to introduce legislation and propose steps to be taken for the protection of child rights.

After getting input from committee members, Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood has drafted a bill with a view to promoting child rights and protecting the ‘child at risk’ in Pakistan.  The copy of bill has been circulated to various ministries including law ministry to get their input as well and later it will be submitted before the apex court.

The initial draft defining ‘child at risk’ says the child in need of protection includes an orphan along with those with disabilities, born to migrants, working on streets and involved in begging. The list also includes homeless children, those who live in a brothel, a child who is in imprisonment with the mother or born in jail.

The draft justified item 3 & 32 of the Federal Legislative List of the Constitution which provide exclusive power to the Parliament to legislate for external affairs, implementation of international treaties, convention and agreements.

Moreover, the draft has proposed punishments for several offences related to child abuse. It is recommended that whoever causes or permits to cause corporal punishment through omission or commission in any form, under any circumstances or for any purpose, to a child shall be punished with imprisonment for such term which may extend to six months.

Likewise, whoever commits an offence of sexual abuse shall be punished with imprisonment for a period of not less than 14 years and shall be liable to fine which shall not be less than Rs10,000.

The bill has also proposed minimum 14 years punishment to those involved in child trafficking within Pakistan and sentence may also be increased to life imprisonment while the court may also award maximum Rs1 million in that offence.

Regarding child beggars, the bill recommends whoever employs any child, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment, which may extend to five years. It is also proposed that whoever commits an offence of child pornography shall be punished for not less than three years and it may extend to seven years.

Likewise, whoever seduces a child with intent to involve him or her in any sexual activity or exposes them to obscene, sexually explicit material shall be punished to the extent of seven years.

The bill has also endorsed penalties in offences of fraud and violence against a child, unauthorised custody, cruelty, giving them intoxicating liquor or narcotic and or inciting a child into gambling while it has also recommended for whoever commits offence of organ trading involving children may be punished with life imprisonment with a mean period of 25 years.

Likewise, whoever, not being a parent, having the actual charge of or control over a child, willfully assaults, ill-treats, fails to provide adequate food and clothes or behaves in a manner likely to cause suffering shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend up to three years and also shall be liable to fine which may extend to Rs300,000.

Meanwhile, the top court’s July 3 order had noted in order to evaluate and ascertain condition of minor Tayyaba, she should be produced before SC judges Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan in chambers on an annual basis starting from third week of January 2019.

The Express Tribune 

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