Regardless of climate change, wars, famine, man-made disasters or, natural disasters like firestorms, dust storms, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and such, one sure thing you can rely upon in all adversity is the survival of hypocrisy. And there's never been any shortage.
No matter where you turn it is readily seen/experienced. While it's possible to write volumes on the different varieties of hypocrisy that would fill Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium at Mirpur several times over, let's just momentarily concentrate on a weeny tiny fraction that has been the pebble in the shoes of countless for a considerable amount of time.
Pause for a second and cast your mind back to around 2010 when Bangladesh had yet to join the civilized nations of the world and ignorance blanketed schools, madrassas, and other learning establishments like Dhaka's polluted air at the time.
Corporal punishment was rampant in homes, schools, madrassas and other educational establishments, not to mention the workforce, where it was common and the only known 'discipline'. The poor and uneducated always had corporal punishment as their loyal companion. Might is Right was/is society's erroneous view of what's right and wrong, determined by those in power.
On January 13, 2011 the stage was set for great change to envelope Bangladesh. The highest court in the land, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, under the leadership of principled justices Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hassan Arif outlawed the barbaric and uncivilized, ignorant practice in Bangladesh schools and madrassa and declared it "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child's fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom".
Wow! - Cruel... inhuman... degrading.
One would have thought that the opinion of these consummate intellectuals would be all that was needed to put all those involved in the repugnant practice to feel great shame and remorse, but that was not to be. Ignorance is mighty powerful and a formidable fighting force against intellectual change.
Archimedes the great Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer once said: "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world".
That is likely to be true, but moving a person from his/her position of ignorance is seemingly much more difficult, especially in the education system where it should be non-existent.
In 1971 Bangladesh gained independence from political tyranny. One would think undiluted love, understanding and compassion for their fellowman would be a natural flow-on. After all if a country is worth dying for, one can only assume it's worth living for. And surely the idea of fighting in the first place, with the risk of losing one's life or limbs, is to gain a better standard of living for oneself one's loved ones or both? Otherwise it's totally non-sensical.
There's no gain or profit to be had by replacing one tyranny with what constitutes another, but given a different name. A rose is a rose, or as Shakespeare once said: "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet".
It's said old habits die hard, and if awards were given for the most enduring of those, that would have to be corporal punishment. In 2011 the dynamic duo of justices Ali and Arif prepared a recipe for the future of Bangladesh to follow and enormously benefit. They explained their razor-sharp thoughts behind their decision in a simple 'pictures-by-numbers' way so there is absolutely no misunderstanding, not even by the most ignorant among us.
"Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child's fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom". That sentence of 19 words (don't bother counting, I've done it for you), defines corporal punishment succinctly.
Suppression by a foreign force should have taught all Bengalis, singularly and collectively, that violence is wrong... that civilized people do not hit people. Unfortunately, those who may have learned this forgot that children are people too!
A child is a person
At what age does a child become a person? You cannot become what you have always been all your life. A child from the moment his/her umbilical cord is severed, is a person. A person is not a state of achievement; it's a natural happening.
The 'good books' - and society in general - tell us hitting another person is uncivilized and wrong; it's a flaw in the character in those who do are punished by law. Children, however, who should have more protection than adults because they are more vulnerable, actually have less!
It is common practice for politicians throughout the world to speak in jingles about the value of their children as being the future of the nation and so on. Queen Elizabeth II of England once said: "Children - not gold, coal or iron are our greatest assets."
The Bangladesh version might read: "Children - not gold, coal or jute are our greatest assets." Indeed our beloved Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has said countless times that children are the nation's future and greatest assets, which are undisputable facts.
Sweden was the first country to outlaw children corporal punishment in 1966 although school corporal punishment was banned much earlier in 1958.
There are now 63 countries that have prohibited corporal punishment in the home, in alternative care settings, in day care, in schools, in penal institutions and sentences for crime.
A decade after honorable justices Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hassan Arif made their right and proper upright decision in 2011, Bangladesh is still not on the international list of honour.
The ban on corporal punishment in Bangladesh is seemingly a mere wish... pie in the sky... fanciful thinking a good soundbite.
For Bangladesh to advance and make Bangabandhu's imaginative beautiful dream of Sonar Bangla come true it is essential this issue is addressed and given high priority. Unquestionably, children are the foundation of all nations. Attempting to build Sonar Bangla on a foundation that's less than solid, is begging for trouble and failure.
In view of Bangabandhu's spectacular dream and the vital role the children will play; it's mystifying that a ban on corporal punishment in homes and schools have yet to be passed into law by parliament.
Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian, and appreciated foreign friend of Bangladesh.
Leave a Comment
Thanksgiving often serves up a feast of new family movies at the box o ...
Results of this year's Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and equi ...