In order to encourage classroom discipline, the teachers in Malaysia would be allowed to whip their pupils, girls as well as boys.
The government already permits boys to be whipped with a rattan cane in schools for serious offenses such as smoking, vandalism and harming others.
Deputy Education Minister Noh Omar said school heads, representatives of parent-teacher associations and religious groups at an education seminar earlier this week called for harsher punishment, including caning, for girls.
"Girls also cause serious problems. It is just a proposal. We are studying it," he told The Associated Press.
Lok Yim Pheng, secretary-general of the National Union of the Teaching Profession, who attended the seminar, said corporal punishment was needed to rein in unruly girls.
"Sometimes the girls are even more daring than the boys," she told the AP. "It's high time to put these girls in order by caning them."
However, Lok said girls should be caned only by a female teacher and only on the hands and legs.
Critics say caning for girls would be too harsh. Criminologist P.Sundramoorthy was quoted by The Star newspaper as saying that caning is brutal and may not act as a deterrent.
Elisa Tan Lee Yan, a 16-year-old student, told the newspaper that girls would not be able to withstand the caning.
"If you want to punish us, make us wash the toilets instead. That's already punishment in itself," she said.
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