THE Constitutional Court in South Africa on Wednesday ruled that corporal punishment at home violates children’s rights, sparking debate on African parenting online.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who presided over the case, declared that ‘reasonable chastisement’ of children was inconsistent with the Constitution.
The court added that there are other ways of effectively disciplining a child, without resorting to corporal punishment.
‘There is, therefore, a less restrictive means envisaged by Section 36 of the Constitution available to achieve discipline.’
The ruling upholds an earlier High Court ruling in which a father was found guilty of assaulting his 13-year-old son. In that ruling court, court found that the father had exceeded the bounds of reasonable chastisement.
The father, who was punishing his son for watching pornography, had argued that he had a right to chastise his son, in accordance with his religious beliefs.
The Freedom of Religion South Africa, a pressure group, that challenged the High Court ruling, criticised Wednesday’s ruling.
The group argued that the state should not interfere with parents who are mandated by the Bible to physically correct their children.
Many South Africans have taken to Twitter to deride the court’s ruling. ‘These laws are only made by people without kids,’ said one. Another said, ‘If my kids will be conceived, clothed, fed and provided shelter for by the #ConCourt then they will not get spanked
I rest my case your honour.’
‘This #concourt cr*p is why a lot of black kids misbehave and are uncontrollable, NO COURT OR GOVERNMENT WILL TELL ME HOW TO RAISE MY CHILDREN. IF MY KIDS ARE BEING UNRULY AND DISRESPECTFUL, I WILL DISCIPLINE THEM… Finish.’