By Nawar Firdaws and Tarrence Tan
February 18, 2017
A religious leader has spoken against the unIslamic practice of beating children to discipline them.
“I’ve seen parents hitting kids as young as five or seven,” said Zainal Mohamed, assistant secretary of the Muslim Welfare Organisation’s Malacca chapter. The organisation is better known by its Malay acronym, Perkim.
Quoting a saying of the Prophet, Zainal reminded Muslim parents that hitting children below the age of 10 would be against a religious prohibition.
Even with a child older than 10, he said, parents should punish him only to educate him and never use him as a punching bag to vent out their frustrations.
“But 90% of the time, we see parents hitting their children to release anger,” he said.
Zainal also criticised the mandatory marriage course for engaged Muslim couples, saying it was lacking in the teaching of parenting skills.
He proposed that the authorities correct this flaw by introducing a parenting course for prospective parents.
“After all, Islam teaches that parents are accountable for the behaviour of their children,” he said.
Zainal’s remarks followed a string of news reports about violence against children.
Last September, the bodies of two children, one seven months old and the other three years old, were found stuffed in large containers in Segambut. Their father’s body was found lying on a bed in an apartment.
The father had criminal records for drug abuse and possession, and was believed to be behind the murder of the two children. The mother was subsequently charged for neglect and amphetamine consumption.
Two months later, the body of a two-year-old boy was found in a decomposed state in a cooler box at the Payu Nahu Flats in Kedah. His four-year-old sister was found to have been severely abused. Their mother’s boyfriend was arrested on suspicion of child abuse.
According to statistics provided by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Malaysia on its website, 3,428 cases of violence against children were reported in 2011 alone.
UNICEF said the reported cases most likely represented only 10% of total cases.