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Posted at 2:00 AM ET, 07/23/2010

Tunisia bans spanking (even by parents)

By Valerie Strauss

Talk about government involvement in the home: Tunisia lawmakers have voted to ban spanking of children by anybody, parents included.

The AFP news service reported that the northern African nation eliminated a legal provision that had said that corporal punishment by an adult who has authority over a child cannot be prosecuted.

That makes spanking a penal offense, in school, at home, anywhere.

Critics argued that the legal change was a clear infringement of parental authority and could negatively affect family ties.

But Justice and Human Rights Minister Lazhar Bououny said the ban was implemented to protect children from violence, and he encouraged "relations based on mutual respect, dialogue and understanding."

Parliament also set the legal age at 18, in line with the penal age and the right to vote.

In the United States, of course, not only do parents spank their kids at will, but 20 states still allow adults to whack kids in school as a form of punishment, and hundreds of thousands of students a year are struck.

A bill was recently introduced in Congress to institute a federal ban on corporal punishment in schools.

Let me be clear, though: This is not to equate the countries in any sense. A new Amnesty International report documented abuses by the Tunisian government against independent organizations as well as individuals, characterized by surveillance, harassment, smear campaigns and prosecution on phony charges, and physical assault.

So back to the ban on spanking. Is this a good idea or wildly intrusive?


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By Valerie Strauss  | July 23, 2010; 2:00 AM ET
Categories:  Discipline, Parents  | Tags:  ban on spanking, corporal punishment, should kids be spanked?, tunisia bans spanking  
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Comments

Think this is a rare happening? What if the law was enacted, by say, Germany? Or New Zealand? How about if it were done in the Netherlands, Greece, Israel, Iceland or Spain?

Oops, those countries, and many more, have already done so! Tunisia is the 26th nation to enact a ban on parents, or anyone else, hitting kids. And why not? We have banned hitting wives, which used to be legal, and a hundred and fifty years ago we banned flogging sailors.

Let's start with protecting kids in schools, and stop teachers and principals from hitting kindergarten girls with boards. Yes, "paddling," that euphemism for the legal beating of children as young as five, does remain legal and in use in 20 states, mostly in the South. Every other developed country in the world has long ago stopped that model of violence against children, but not us. Sad, we are long overdue for the bill in Congress now. I hope it passes.

See www.stophitting.com for more info.

Posted by: rfathman | July 23, 2010 4:47 AM | Report abuse

Well, as a Tunisian who left the country a while ago for the US, spanking kids is the least of my worries. I rather be spanked by my parents during my childhood than harassed, prosecuted jailed and tortured by the government living with fear under a dictatorship for life. I salute the write to add couple of lines at the end related to Tunisia's authoritarian regime. The person in power has been there since 1987. Yep 1987. Can you believe that? Think about it this way, the US went through about 5 presidents since then! In Tunisia you will be tortured if you speak up against the regime, even in a peaceful way of course. Tunisians, including my relatives are suffocated under this regime. Minority is controlling the wealth. Members of Parliament, are you kidding me? they are not voted in! they are all cronies, they have no say whatsoever! and to add some spice to this comment I would like to mention that "Tunisian parliament" has recently approved a law that made it a crime to criticize Tunisia! yep, that means I can be charged and jailed for at least 6 years just for these comments. as simple as that. In fact I will be tortured upon arrest. This regime is second only to Saddam and may be Syria.

To conclude, I hope that Tunisians figure out away to end this cycle of dictators and corruption at all levels. They should build a democratic secular society and make sure no religious fanatics are in control. Because if the latter is the case I rather be living under a secular dictator.

Remember spanking is not good but it is the least of worries in Tunisia.

Adios

Posted by: surething | July 23, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

A simplistic view of a law

Let me begin by saying that it is clear from your paper that your understanding of Tunisia is rather poor if not null. Second, I clearly do not see the link between the first and the second half of your paper. By God, what is the relationship between the ban on the spanking of children and what you term as "abuses by the Tunisian government against independent organizations as well as individuals", etc.? I honestly see no linkage whatsoever. Likewise, I do not perceive the message you want to put through.
This law on spanking on which you built your weird story, to say the least, cannot be handled in isolation. Rather, it is part and parcel of whole and vast project initiated by President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali since 1987. This project concerns the Tunisian family, in particular, and the Tunisian society as a whole. Indeed, since 1987 women, children, and the family have been granted special care from the President. A battery of measures, decisions, laws etc. have been taken in favor of these categories. You can check the Code of Personal Status (www.csp.tn) of Tunisia and the Code of the Protection of the Child. Once you do that, you will be able by yourself and you will certainly have a better and clearer perception of this law.
Luigi Calvino,
Rome, Italy

Posted by: luigicalvino | July 26, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Corporal punishment against children is beyond debate, well done Tunisia!
I am glad Tunisia’s parliament has abolished corporal punishment against children. Incidentally, I find AFP’s use of the term ‘spanking’, derogatory and even cynical.
Child molestation, which involves beating and inflicting inhuman treatment, is degrading especially when it is used against people who are defenseless. Needless to add that the trauma it leaves, is sometimes beyond repair..
One of the member’s of Tunisia’s opposition in parliament who voted against the law, argued that “the law is against our culture”, implying that it is perfectly normal that Arabs should use violence against kids if only to educate them better. No comment!
The fact remains that Tunisia is the first Arab and Muslim country to criminalize violence against children. Incidentally, it was also the first country to set up as far back as in 1956, three months after independence, the Personal Status Code which abolished polygamy, repudiation and gave women equal rights with men.
As a result, Tunisian women are the freest in the Arab world. This was documented in the first survey report of its kind, released in July 2010 by the New Economist on “Women’s Economic Opportunity”, where Tunisia is ranked first in North Africa and in the Arab World in terms of women’s empowerment.
As far as I know women’s and children’s rights are also part and parcel of human rights. This small, secular North African State, a leader in its own right when it comes to promoting children’s rights, deserves praise and encouragement and should not be criticized for adopting these bold initiatives, in a region where millions of children, boys and girls alike, continue to be the object of ill treatment.

Johachim Scheuder
Bonn, Germany

Posted by: TomShandy10 | July 26, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Corporal punishment against children is beyond debate, well done Tunisia!
I am glad Tunisia’s parliament has abolished corporal punishment against children. Incidentally, I find AFP’s use of the term ‘spanking’, derogatory and even cynical.
Child molestation, which involves beating and inflicting inhuman treatment, is degrading especially when it is used against people who are defenseless. Needless to add that the trauma it leaves, is sometimes beyond repair..
One of the member’s of Tunisia’s opposition in parliament who voted against the law, argued that “the law is against our culture”, implying that it is perfectly normal that Arabs should use violence against kids if only to educate them better. No comment!
The fact remains that Tunisia is the first Arab and Muslim country to criminalize violence against children. Incidentally, it was also the first country to set up as far back as in 1956, three months after independence, the Personal Status Code which abolished polygamy, repudiation and gave women equal rights with men.
As a result, Tunisian women are the freest in the Arab world. This was documented in the first survey report of its kind, released in July 2010 by the New Economist on “Women’s Economic Opportunity”, where Tunisia is ranked first in North Africa and in the Arab World in terms of women’s empowerment.
As far as I know women’s and children’s rights are also part and parcel of human rights. This small, secular North African State, a leader in its own right when it comes to promoting children’s rights, deserves praise and encouragement and should not be criticized for adopting these bold initiatives, in a region where millions of children, boys and girls alike, continue to be the object of ill treatment.

Johachim Scheuder
Bonn, Germany

Posted by: TomShandy10 | July 26, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Spanking has been illegal for 30 years in Sweden, which was the first country to ban this corporal punishment:

http://www.ethicsoup.com/2009/10/spanking-is-illegal-sweden-celebrates-30year-national-ban-.html

New Zealand citizens also banned spanking and then banned the ban, changing their minds. Currently there are at least 24 countries where spanking is illegal:

http://www.ethicsoup.com/countries-where-spanking-is-banned.html

For those who don't believe that cruelty and abuse are good enough reasons to make spanking illegal, recent research proves that it just doesn't work and actually creates aggression in children:

http://www.ethicsoup.com/2010/04/do-you-want-a-spanking-it-doesnt-work-spanking-creates-aggression.html

Posted by: s_mceachern | July 29, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

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