South Africa’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the use of corporal punishment at home violates children’s rights.
It ruled that the “reasonable and moderate chastisement” of children as a form of physical discipline is unconstitutional.
The court said there were effective ways to discipline a child without the use of corporal punishment, BBC Africa reported.
It upheld an earlier High Court ruling from a trial that involved a father who was found guilty of assaulting his 13-year-old son after he discovered he had been watching pornography.
In that case, the father argued that he was entitled to chastise his son because he was doing so in accordance with his religious beliefs. But the court found the defence of reasonable chastisement to be unconstitutional.
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A pressure group, Freedom of Religion South Africa, has criticised Wednesday’s ruling.
It argued that the judgement made criminals of people of faith who believe that the Bible permits or even commands them to physically correct their children.
But Tshebo Mokoena, from the children’s rights NGO ChildLine, welcomed the ruling.
“We must agree that you cannot correct a child’s behaviour with violence,” he told the BBC.