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“Children in Pakistan grow up faster than those elsewhere because of the country’s hot climate and spicy food, according to the country’s ministry of interior which is blocking plans to raise the age of criminal responsibility. Its extraordinary stance has delayed attempts to increase the age from seven to 12 – in line with United Nations guidelines – and also hampered a bill that would outlaw child pornography, trafficking and sexual abuse for the first time. The delays have exasperated ministers trying to steer the legislation through parliament,” reports Rob Crilly in the the Daily Telegraph yesterday.

 In a written submission, the ministry of law and justice said that, “It can be well understood that attainment of maturity of understanding depends on social, economic, climatic, dietary and environmental factors, that’s why a child in our subcontinent starts understanding nature and consequences of his/her conduct much earlier than a child in the West specially because of general poverty, hot climate, exotic and spicy food which contribute toward speedy physical and mental growth of the child.”

What do your students think?

Here are some questions that might guide a discussion in your class:

At what age is a child responsible for his/her actions? Why?

In Pakistan a 7-year-old child is tried as an adult offender. The United Nations, on the other hand, says the minimum age for criminal responsibility should be 12 years old. Who is right?