Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has decried lack of corporal punishment law and clear stipulation of the penalty, saying this is denying the offended justice.
MHRC commissioner Benedicto Kondowe said this in Lilongwe on Tuesday when opening a two-day workshop on promoting and achieving law reform to prohibit corporal punishment in Malawi.
“Studies have shown that corporal punishment is widespread, although our focus is mainly in primary and secondary schools,” he said.
Kondowe said there is need for provisions in the existing laws, that should prohibit corporal punishment.
“The commission intends to put up a team to spearhead the process of making provisions in the existing statues to ensure corporal punishment is explicitly prohibited and eliminated,” he said.
According to the 2014 Millennium Development Goals Endline Survey, 42.9 percent of one to 14-year olds in Malawi were subjected to physical punishment during the month preceding the survey.
In 2016, MHRC conducted a public inquiry on status of children’s rights with special focus on corporal punishment in schools and uncovered that the practice remains pervasive in public schools.
The survey found that, among others, children are subjected to sexual harassment, slapping, whipping and banging of their heads against the wall.
Malawi is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Children and other human rights instruments which protect children from violence and abuse. However, the country does not have a clear legal framework on prohibition of corporal punishment. For instance, the Education Act of 2013 does not provide for absolute prohibition of the practice, so does the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act of 2010.
Kondowe said: “We need strong measures, including law reform.”
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology deputy director of inspectorate and advisory services Lindiwe Chide said there is need for strong advocacy to motivate people to report corporal punishment cases.
“The Education Act is also not clear on corporal punishment. We need a law on this,” she said.