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The Death of Mahnoor Fatima: How We Failed Yet Another Child

The eight year old was subjected to heavy battery by her teacher for not learning her lesson.

Another precious life was lost on 7th July at Nishtar Hospital when eight-year-old Mahnoor Fatima passed away due to the severe injuries she suffered at the hands of her teacher. Her death is not only a sign of how badly both our health and education system failed yet another innocent life but is yet another indication of how seminary teachers treat their young pupils; using corporal punishments for reasons as minuscule as not learning a lesson.

The victim’s family staged a protest outside the hospital, seeking justice for the young child who now lay dead; a police report was filed at the Qadipur Rawan Police Station with charges against the seminary, Abdul Haq, Faseeha, and Hafsa Bibi along with two, unidentified offenders. The victim’s family also filed charges against the medical personnel at Nishtar Hospital for gross neglect of the patient, hoping that Mahnoor Fatima will receive justice, even if it is delayed and delivered after her death.

This death raises two important questions for the general public; why is this culture of corporal punishment so rampant in the schools of Pakistan, especially in seminaries, where religion is used by these brutal people to justify their heinous crimes? And why were the doctors at the widely-acclaimed, Nishtar Hospital unable to properly treat a victim of such cruelty, on time?

It’s important to understand that nothing can justify beating a child to death and injuring them beyond the point of recovery. It is nothing but inhuman and should not be glossed over just to save face. It’s no secret that our flawed education system does nothing to suspend and punish teachers from grossly misusing their authority and administering such inhuman punishments on innocent students. While the government boasts that corporal punishment in schools has been successfully banned, the ugly side of the matter remains unseen until incidents like this emerge from the woodwork, reminding us that while they have been banned by law, there is no system to swiftly deliver justice if such events do occur.

The health system is even worse; patients die every day of common diseases that could be easily cured had any attention been paid to them. There is no system to effectively deal with this crisis with the health department being run like a business with no one to question the workings. Many doctors do not care about saving lives or committing to a profession as noble as medicine but instead look for ways to make money, at the expense of their patients.

Is this not evidence enough for us as a nation to learn, even if it happened at the expense of a child’s life?

With an inquiry committee investigating the circumstances of Mahnoor’s death, this is a moment for us to wonder why we still send our children to certain schools even though we know about the types of punishments being administered, especially seminary schools which are notorious for these sort of incidents. It’s time we call for a boycott of any institutions and/or that use corporal punishments to modify behavior.

Enough is enough!

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