South Africa’s highest court on Wednesday upheld a ruling that spanking or corporal punishment of children at home was unconstitutional, saying the practices violate child rights.
In a much-awaited decision, the South African Constitutional Court backed a 2017 court ruling that sentenced a father for assaulting his 13-year-old son for watching a pornographic film.
A religious freedom group had challenged that case, saying while it does not promote abuse, parents should have the right to raise their children according to their religious beliefs.
However, the nine constitutional judges unanimously ruled that spanking should be banned.
“The vulnerability of children, their rights to dignity and to have the paramountcy of their best interests upheld, as well as the availability of less restrictive means to achieve discipline, render moderate and reasonable chastisement unconstitutional,” they ruled.
The court banned corporal punishment in prison in 1995 and in schools in 2000.