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Bangladesh bans corporal punishment in schools following court order

The Bangladeshi Ministry of Education [official website] on Monday banned the use of corporal punishment in all schools across the country. Following a circular order [BD News 24 report] issued by Education Secretary Ataur Rahman, calling the form of punishment "misconduct," teachers found guilty of beating children will now face disciplinary action [BBC report]. The directive follows interim orders [press release] from the Bangladeshi Supreme Court [official website] in July requiring the investigation and prosecution of such corporal punishment and the public instruction to all schools to refrain from utilizing corporal punishment of any kind. The Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) [advocacy websites] initially challenged the government's failure to respond to incidents of corporal punishment after a 10-year-old boy committed suicide after being beaten by his teacher. BLAST and ASK argued that the lack government action violated fundamental and international rights under the Constitution, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [texts].

Corporal punishment is widespread and prevalent in Bangladesh. In 2009, the UNICEF [official website] released a report documenting the frequent physical abuse of children [Reuters report] at home, school and work. The Opinions of Children of Bangladesh on Corporal Punishment [text, PDF] revealed that 91 percent of children faced physical abuse at school and that many teachers continue to use switches, canes and sticks. Bangladesh has previously been scrutinized for other human rights violations. In 2007, the EU monitored and expressed concern over possible human rights violations [JURIST report] in Bangladesh. Earlier that year, Reporters Without Borders [advocacy website] criticized Bangladeshi censorship and violence against journalists, and the US Department of State (DOS) [official website] expressed concerns about due process for people detained under Bangladesh's emergency rules [JURIST report].

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