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Will Bangladesh Become No. 67 to Ban Corporal Punishment?

Columns 2024-05-15, 8:35pm

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Sir Frank Peters



In 1979, Sweden utterly disgraced itself and set a bad example to the rest of the world when it went against the norm and banned corporal punishment to its children. How inconsiderate and preposterous was that? 

Sir Frank Peters

Have you ever wondered what makes children born in Bangladesh less valuable and appreciated than those born in Sweden? I know I have.

It can’t be the colour of their skin or the Islamic faith they embrace. Those might make them different in appearance and religious practice, but all souls are the same, made in bulk, hallmarked “made in Heaven by God” and they have no expiry date.

In 1979, Sweden utterly disgraced itself and set a bad example to the rest of the world when it went against the norm and banned corporal punishment to its children. How inconsiderate and preposterous was that?

The world was getting along nicely, pre social media days, snugly wrapped in its consummate ignorance without such interference. Children knew if they behaved like normal children, they’re likely to get a kick in the bum, a good trashing, or a whack across the head that would send them into the middle of next week.

Corporal punishment was no big deal in the grand scheme of things and performed throughout the centuries uninterrupted. Sure there were some cry babies who howled and screamed when their fingers or legs were broken or were not able to sit down after a good spanking, but they were in the minority.  

Many schoolteachers, Imams, and other religious instructors were particularly happy with the arrangement. They would arrive at the school premises laden with the worries and concerns of family problems and use the children therapeutically as punching bags to vent their frustrations and showcase their character flaws.

Giving a kid a slap in the face (especially those with freckles or pimples) or the odd closed-fisted punch in the stomach was totally acceptable. Besides ‘teachers’ were held in high esteem; considered to be educated, and supposed to know what’s best for the child. And parents trusted them 100%.

Sweden, in an eureka moment, came up with the mad-cap, outlandish concept that children were special as if it were a truth handed down by Allah. Unbelievable! – The half-size people weren’t even paying tax or contributing towards the family budget, only eating gluttonous amounts of food, piling up the family laundry basket, and complaining if dinner was late. What rights did they deserve?

Nevertheless, as wild and insane as the idea was, the concept took root and the great awakening began. It was deemed, a child born in Bangladesh, Ireland, Malaysia, Kenya, Barbados ¬– or whichever country you care to name – is no different to those born in Sweden. They’re all God’s children. Even their basic food and nourishment requirements are the same.

So if all children begin form on heaven’s drawing board – like Walt Disney characters – given a pure-white soul and engineered and manufactured in His likeness by God Himself to His absolute highest standards; why are they treated so differently on earth by their own governments?

Perhaps there is a missing tablet of marble somewhere with an engraved explanation. It happened before, y’know. The world was stewing in its own ignorance and heading rapidly downhill when Moses was empowered to read His 10 recipes for salvation to stop the rot.

I can’t help, but wonder if those responsible for banning corporal punishment to children in Sweden also had a divine revelation experience.

In near bygone days, “Beat the devil out of them” was the war cry, as parents held prayer beads in one hand and mercilessly beat the child with a stick in the other. I can envisage Allah shaking His head in sorrowful dismay and saying to the angels nearby, “They’ve got it wrong. That’s not beating the devil OUT of them, it’s beating it IN to them”.

And those poor wretched souls who relied heavily upon “spare the rod and spoil the child” for support to their abusive actions must have been so let down and disappointed when they learned that in the GOOD books, the word ‘rod’ means discipline/advice ... and not a ‘stick’. 

In Hebrew (the language in which the Bible was written), the word “rod” is the same word used in Psalms 23:4, ‘thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me’.

The shepherd’s hooked rod/staff was/is used to ENCOURAGE, GUIDE, and DISCIPLINE the sheep towards taking a desired direction, NOT to traumatize, beat, hurt, or damage them (and lower their market value). That would not make a scrap of sense.

Since Sweden first outlawed the pleasure of beating children in 1979 – and rightly so – 65 more countries have banned corporal punishment in all settings.  Unfortunately, Bangladesh is not among them.

Although corporal punishment has no benefit whatsoever, it continues and children are abused and tortured daily at the hands of masochists and made feel lower in value and appreciation to their Swedish counterparts.

As Bangladesh aspires to become Sonar Bangla, however, but can’t while corporal punishment is about, no doubt it will change for the better sooner or later... preferably sooner.

(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.)