Children in Zimbabwe have reason to rejoice: a court has ruled that parents and teachers will no longer be legally allowed to beat them.
Earlier this week, Zimbabwe’s High Court has ruled that corporal punishment is a cruel and unusual method of improving behavior, both in the classroom and in the family home.
The issue came to the High Court’s attention after Linah Pfungwa’s six-year-old child came home from school one day with purple welts and bruises.
It turns out that the girl’s teacher beat the six-year-old mercilessly after Pfungwa forgot to sign her daughter’s reading book, which serves as proof that the girl completed her homework.
“My child suffered major bruises, and I took photographs and pictures… She had deep bruises on her back, and she could hardly sleep properly,” Pfungwa told the state-run Chronicle newspaper, according to the BBC. “I posted the pictures of my daughter on our WhatsApp group for other parents to observe and it turned out that other children had also been assaulted.”
Pfungwa filed a legal document that stated her daughter’s teacher repeatedly struck her child with a rubber pipe. According to Pfungwa, it is outrageous that this form of violence is used to discipline children when there are other ways to teach good behavior.
“If my child misbehaves, I ground her by denying her access to television as well as denying her pocket money or other goodies like sweets and presents,” Pfungwa said. “If she does well, I reward her by presents or extra hours of watching television. … My child is well-behaved and well-brought up simply as a result of the dialogue that I use as a means of discipline.”
While the constitutional court still needs to sign off on the High Court’s ruling, High Court Justice David Mangota agreed with Pfungwa’s assessment, calling corporal punishment for children unconstitutional.
According to the BBC, the ruling stands to transform how Zimbabwean parents have disciplined their children for centuries.