It’s a sad day for Irish wooden spoon manufacturers. Ireland has just become the latest country to ban corporal punishment in all settings, including homes and schools. Wooden spoons were the most commonly cursed implement used for corporal punishment in Irish homes.
Ireland banned corporal punishment in schools in 1982, but had not explicitly banned it in the home. This was found to be in breach of the European Social Charter – which guarantees social and economic human rights for all living in member states.
The new law closes the loophole that allowed corporal punishment in the home using “reasonable chastisement” and ends the debate as to what is ‘reasonable chastisement’.
This law makes Ireland the 20th European Union state to achieve total prohibition of corporal punishment, the 29th Council of Europe member state, and the 47th state worldwide.
During initial debates Irish Senator Jillian van Turnhout said the reasonable punishment defence allowed parents and some other carers to justify common assault on children.
“With this amendment we have a way to unite and agree that all citizens are equal. There must never be a defence for violence against children,” she said.
Sweden was the first country to ban corporal punishment in 1979, but laws banning corporal punishment at home and in school even today only protect 10 percent of children worldwide.
Article 39 of the law passed by Benin in January this year, reads:
“Parents or other persons legally responsible for a child will ensure that discipline is enforced in such a way as to ensure that it is treated with humanity and with respect for its human dignity.
“In no case may the punishment constitute a violation of the child’s physical integrity or torture or inhuman or degrading treatment. Any punishment must be education in intent and accompanied by an explanation.”
Md. Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Md. Sheikh Hasan Arif outlawed corporal punishment in Bangladesh school and madrasas on January 13, 2011. In their summary they said corporal punishment was ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom’.
In an emotional speech at the remembrance ceremony of her tragically murdered younger brother Sheikh Russell, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said no child should suffer as he did.
"I have lost my brother Russell in a tender age. So I wish a safe life to every child and an atmosphere in which they could grow properly," she said.
She added her government is striving to build a country where every child would enjoy a safe life and have the opportunity to build its future in a congenial atmosphere.
A noble mission that's worth pursuing and richly deserves applause.
Md. Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Md. Sheikh Hasan Arif sowed the seeds to benefit Bangladesh in 2011. Now it’s time to initiate the necessary changes properly that will remove the weeds that are choking progress and convert Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s dream to reality.
(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, a royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian, and a long-time respected foreign friend of Bangladesh)
BDST: 0936 HRS, NOV 15, 2015