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KATHMANDU, SEP 15 - The government on Sunday launched a national campaign against Corporal Punishment of Children.

The campaign set afloat by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare on the occasion of Children’s Day aims to ban corporal punishment by advocating for amendments in current law and also reaching out to parents, teachers and children to stop the use of physical force.

During the launch, Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Neelam KC Khadka urged all parties to support the campaign in view of stopping the violence. “Punishing a child negatively impacts his/her physical and mental development and spoils relationships. We need to bring this issue forward.”

Corporal punishment, the use of physical force to inflict some kind of pain as a tool of discipline, is common in South Asian countries with the general notion that beating a child ‘instils discipline’ and ‘sets them right.’

The campaign is in collaboration with the South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children and South Asia Coordinating Group on Action against Children.

Unicef Country Representative Tomoo Huzoomi, at the programme, said that Corporal punishment has a deep lasting impact on children. “Children who are exposed to some kind of violence are more likely to be unemployed, live in poverty and likely to be violent,” he said. “Governments, non government bodies and parents needed to act urgently to protect children.”

Article 7 of the Child Act 1992 stated that no child should be subjected to any sort of torture. An exception was, however, made for the act of scolding and minor beating to the child by his/her father, mother and family members, guardian or teacher for the betterment of the child.

In 2005, the Supreme Court annulled the article and declared the portion “give him/her minor beating” unconstitutional. It also issued a directive to end all corporal punishment. In 2011, a bill on the act related to children which included the prohibition of corporal punishment was tabled in the Parliament, but was not enacted. In 2012, a new Child Rights Bill was tabled in the Parliament which also called on a prohibition of all forms of violence against children, including physical and mental punishment. And, again, the bill has not been enacted. Similarly, a legal defence for parental corporal punishment also exists in the Muluki Ain.

The current campaign, Corporal Punishment of Children, aims to ban corporal punishment in all laws of the country, for the welfare of children. The year-long campaign with the motto of ‘listening to children’ also aims to carry out activities to reach out to parents, teachers, guardians and the children themselves including  national level discussions and nationwide awareness programs.

The government of Nepal ratified the convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990   and has also pledged allegiance to the five-year SAIEVAC Work plan from 2011-16 that looks forward to ensuring realisation of children’s rights as stated in the Convention and various Saarc Conventions, to prevent violence against children.