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In its latest Newsletter the Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) discusses progress in ending the Harmful Traditional Practice of Corporal Punishment of Children.http://www.crin.org/violence/resources/CRINMAILS/crinmail_detail.asp?crinmailID=4819
ENDING HARMFUL PRACTICES AFFECTING CHILDRENThe 2013 Day of the African Child was celebrated in June under the theme of "Eliminating Harmful Social and Cultural Practices Affecting Children: Our Collective Responsibility". In a region where many harmful practices against children persist, the decision by the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to focus on this issue was welcomed by both international human rights experts and civil society in Africa. To continue this focus on the issue, this month's CRINmail on Violence against Children will round up the latest news and reports on harmful practices affecting children, drawing on both ongoing concerns and positive reforms.
Defining harmful practices. According to a 2012 report by the International NGO Council on Violence Against Children, the common characteristic of harmful practices is that "they are based on tradition, culture, religion or superstition and are perpetrated and actively condoned by the child's parents or significant adults within the child's community ... still enjoy majority support within communities or whole states ... [and] are often perpetrated against very young children or infants, who are clearly lacking the capacity to consent or to refuse consent themselves." The report gives special coverage to particular practices that appear to have been neglected by human rights advocacy because of their long-standing acceptance within a given child's community. The following looks at some of these. Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children submitted a paper emphasising how corporal punishment is now recognised as "a social and cultural practice which seriously breaches children's rights to physical integrity and respect for their human dignity." Coinciding with this view was a recent court ruling in Namibia, where the Windhoek Magistrate's Court convicted four teachers of a private school of assault for subjecting a 14-year-old pupil to corporal punishment. The ruling was based on Namibia's Supreme Court decision in April 1991 that the use of corporal punishment would be in conflict with the Constitution's prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The then Chief Justice, Hans Berker, stated in a separate judgement that "even if very moderately applied and subject to very strict controls, the fact remains that any type of corporal punishment results in some impairment of dignity and degrading treatment". Full story. Likewise in the Philippines, a new bill seeks to ban corporal punishment used to "discipline" children, which it defines as "humiliating [and] degrading". The Anti-Corporal Punishment Act of 2013 aims to strengthen the current law which bans corporal punishment of children in schools and penal institutions by extending the prohibition to also cover alternative care and home settings. The Act makes a comprehensive list of all forms of "humiliating or degrading" treatment intended as punishment that should be criminalised. View the list here.