Thursday, 10 February 2022

Corporal punishment


It is the infliction of physical pain upon a person’s body as punishment for a crime or infraction. Corporal punishments include flogging, beating, branding, mutilation, blinding, and the use of the stock and pillory. In a broad sense, the term also denotes the physical disciplining of children in the schools and at home. Corporal punishment no longer exists in the legal systems of most developed nations of the world. The last floggings in the United States, for example, were carried out in the state of Delaware in 1952 (the practice was abolished there in 1972). British criminal law stood as a rare exception in its legal prescription of whipping as punishment for some offenses, but the infliction of this penalty was severely limited by the Criminal Justice Act of 1948 and was abolished in 1967. Whipping and even amputation remain prescribed punishments in several Middle Eastern nations that strictly observe Islamic law, however. Beatings and other corporal forms of disciplinary action are still administered, whether legally or covertly, in the prison systems of many countries. Corporal punishment is explicitly prohibited by several international conventions on human rights, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations’ “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.”

Corporal punishment encompasses all types of physical punishment, including spanking, slapping, pinching, pulling, twisting, and hitting with an object. It also may include forcing a child to consume unpleasant substances such as soap, hot sauce, or hot pepper.


Since time immemorial, punishing children has been considered a sure shot panacea to raising responsible and disciplined offspring. Children were made to believe that the infliction of harm was a part and parcel of growing up, hence he or she never thought that his or her rights had been infringed upon. Infliction of harm was dubbed as love and care in the best interest of the child thereby making most children never felt the need to report such incidents. This write up discusses at length, the situation of Corporal Punishment in India at present.


A nation-wide study called ‘Child Abuse in India – 2007’, conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, covered 13 Indian states and interviewed children who had not completed the age of 18 years and its findings were as follows:

Physical Abuse: Two out of every three children were physically abused. Out of 69% of the children physically abused in 13 sample states, 54.68% were boys. Over 50% of the children in all the 13 sample states were being subjected to one or the other form of physical abuse. 65% of school going children reported facing corporal punishment at some point in their lives. The State of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, and Delhi have almost consistently reported higher rates of abuse in all forms as compared to other states. Most children did not report the matter to anyone.

Emotional Abuse and Girl child neglect: Every second child reported facing emotional abuse. An equal percentage of both girls and boys reported facing emotional abuse. In 83% of the cases, parents were the abusers. 48.4% of girls wished they were boys.


Corporal Punishment is still prevalent in India but that is mostly in rural and backward areas. Effective measures are being taken, awareness is being spread and the statutory bodies are doing their work efficiently. With the current regimen towards the eradication of Corporal Punishment, complete eradication doesn’t look unachievable.

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