Last updated: June 2017
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*India is committed to reforming its laws to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings.*

Summary of law reform necessary to achieve full prohibition

India’s commitment to prohibiting corporal punishment

India expressed its commitment to prohibiting all corporal punishment of children, including in the home, in its third/fourth report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2011. The commitment was reaffirmed when the Government accepted the recommendation to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings made during the Universal Periodic Review of India in 2012.

Summary of necessary legal reform to achieve full prohibition

Prohibition is still to be achieved in the home, some alternative care settings, day care, some schools and as a sentence for crime in traditional justice systems.

Section 89 of the Penal Code 1860, and in Jammu and Kashmir the Ranbir Penal Code, states: “Nothing which is done in good faith for the benefit of a person under twelve years of age, or of unsound mind by or by consent, either express or implied, of the guardian or other person having lawful charge of that person, is an offence by reason of any harm which it may cause, or be intended by the doer to cause or be known by the doer to be likely to cause to that person.…” This section should be amended/repealed to ensure that no legal provision can be construed as providing a defence for the use of corporal punishment. The law should prohibit all corporal punishment, however light, by parents and others with authority over children.

Alternative care settings – Corporal punishment is prohibited in care institutions: prohibition should not be enacted in relation to all forms of non-institutional care. Corporal punishment should be prohibited in all alternative care settings (foster care, institutions, places of safety, emergency care, etc) in Jammu and Kashmir.

Day care – Corporal punishment should be prohibited in all early childhood care (nurseries, crèches, preschools, family centres, etc) and all day care for older children (day centres, after-school childcare, childminding, etc).

Schools – Legislation should be enacted to prohibit corporal punishment of children aged 15, including in Jammu and Kashmir. Corporal punishment should be prohibited in religious schools throughout India.

Sentence for crime – The law should make clear that no child convicted of an offence, including under traditional law, can be ordered to undergo corporal punishment.

Legality of corporal punishment

Home

Corporal punishment is lawful in the home. Section 89 of the Penal Code 1860 (in Jammu and Kashmir the Ranbir Penal Code) states: “Nothing which is done in good faith for the benefit of a person under twelve years of age, or of unsound mind by or by consent, either express or implied, of the guardian or other person having lawful charge of that person, is an offence by reason of any harm which it may cause, or be intended by the doer to cause or be known by the doer to be likely to cause to that person.…” The Government has confirmed that this provides a legal defence for the use of corporal punishment.[1] Provisions against violence and abuse in the Penal Code, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015, the Protection of Child Rights Act 2005, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 and the Constitution are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment in childrearing. The National Charter for Children 2003 confirms children’s right to protection from all corporal punishment (art. 9), but this is not reflected in legislation.

In 2010, Government representatives in SAIEVAC (South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children) developed a national action plan to achieve prohibition, and in 2011 endorsed a report on progress towards prohibiting corporal punishment in South Asia states which included an analysis of the reforms required in India.[2] In the third/fourth state party report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, dated 2011, the Government confirmed that corporal punishment of children is not considered an offence due to section 89 of the Penal Code; this was to be rectified by the drafting of a Prevention of Offences against the Child Bill which would make corporal punishment an offence.[3] However, in 2011 this Bill was replaced by a bill on sexual offences – as enacted, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 does not prohibit corporal punishment. The National Policy for Children 2013, adopted in April 2013, provides for protection of children from “all forms of violence” but specifically refers to corporal punishment only in connection with education (see below, under “Schools”).

The Government accepted the recommendation to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings made during the Universal Periodic Review of India in 2012.[4] In the same year, the Ministry of Women and Child Development proposed amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 which would include a new section on corporal punishment, defining and punishing such punishment in line with the Penal Code provisions on the offences of causing hurt and grievous hurt. The Act as adopted in 2015 did not achieve full prohibition of corporal punishment (see below).

 

Alternative care settings

Corporal punishment is prohibited in child care institutions in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act 2015, in force from January 2016. The Act states in article 82: “(1) Any person in-charge of or employed in a child care institution, who subjects a child to corporal punishment with the aim of disciplining the child, shall be liable, on the first conviction, to a fine of ten thousand rupees and for every subsequent offence, shall be liable for imprisonment which may extend to three months or fine or with both. (2) If a person employed in an institution referred to in sub-section (1), is convicted of an offence under that sub-section, such person shall also be liable for dismissal from service, and shall also be debarred from working directly with children thereafter. (3) In case, where any corporal punishment is reported in an institution referred to in sub-section (1) and the management of such institution does not cooperate with any inquiry or comply with the orders of the Committee or the Board or court or State Government, the person in-charge of the management of the institution shall be liable for punishment with imprisonment for a term not less than three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.”

Corporal punishment is defined in the Act as “the subjecting of a child by any person to physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming the child” (art. 2(24)). A child care institution is defined as a “children’s home, open shelter, observation home, special home, place of safety, specialised Adoption Agency and a fit facility recognised under this Act for providing care and protection to children, who are in need of such services” (art. 2(21)). A “fit facility” is “a facility being run by a governmental organisation or a registered voluntary or non-governmental organisation …” (art. 2(27)). Corporal punishment was previously unlawful in child care institutions under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules 2007.

But corporal punishment is lawful in non-institutional forms of care under section 89 of the Penal Code 1860 (see under “Home”). There is no prohibition of corporal punishment in care settings in Jammu and Kashmir, where it is lawful under the Ranbir Penal Code.

 

Day care

There is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment, which is lawful under section 89 of the Penal Code 1860 (see under “Home”). The National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy 2013, adopted in September 2013, provides for services for children up to the age of six. It states that in the provision of early education a National ECCE Curriculum Framework will be developed within six months of notification of the policy and in this context “an enabling and loving environment devoid of corporal punishment will be ensured” (para. 5.2.3). There is no reference specifically to law reform to prohibit corporal punishment, but the policy does provide in general for the development of a Regulatory Framework (para. 5.2.2) and “appropriate legislation” (para. 10.9) to support implementation of the policy.

 

Schools

The National Policy for Children 2013 states that in education, the state shall “ensure no child is subjected to any physical punishment or mental harassment” and “promote positive engagement to impart discipline so as to provide children with a good learning experience”.[5] Law reform has gone some way to prohibiting corporal punishment in schools but is not yet complete.

Corporal punishment is prohibited in some schools in the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE Act). Article 17 states: “(1) No child shall be subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment. (2) Whoever contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) shall be liable to disciplinary action under the service rules applicable to such person.” The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules 2010 provide for implementation of the Act, including awareness raising about the rights in the Act, procedures for monitoring implementation, and complaints mechanisms when the rights are violated. In 2014, the Ministry of Human Resources Development issued guidance (”Advisory for Eliminating Corporal Punishment in Schools under Section 35(1) of the RTE Act 2009”) which sets out the national law relevant to corporal punishment in schools, the international human rights standards, steps that may be taken to promote positive child development and not resorting to corporal punishment, and the role of national bodies in implementing the RTE Act, stating (p. 18): “This advisory should be used by the State Governments/UT Administrations to ensure that appropriate State/school level guidelines on prevention of corporate punishment and appropriate redressal of any complaints, are framed, disseminated, acted upon and monitored.” However, the Act – including the prohibition of corporal punishment – applies only to children aged 6-14; neither the Act nor the Rules apply in Jammu and Kashmir, and according to Government figures for 2013 corporal punishment was banned in schools under the Act in only 34 states/territories.[6] Furthermore, the Act was amended in 2012 to state (art. 1(5)): “Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to Madrasas, Vedic Pathsalas and educational institutions primarily imparting religious instruction.”[7] The amendment followed a ruling by the Supreme Court in April 2012 that the Act does not apply to unaided minority schools.[8]

In some states, children in all schools are legally protected from corporal punishment under state laws – Goa (Goa Children’s Act 2003, art. 41), Andhra Pradesh (Education Rules 1966, amended 2002, rule 122) and Tamil Nadu (Education Rules, amended 2003, rule 51). In Delhi, provisions for corporal punishment in the Delhi School Education Act 1973 were struck down by the Delhi High Court in 2000, and in 2004 the Calcutta High Court ruled that caning in state schools in West Bengal was unlawful.

A ruling by the Gujarat High Court in 2008 confirmed that where the law prohibits corporal punishment in schools, section 89 of the Penal Code cannot be used as a legal defence for its use.[9]

 

Penal institutions

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules 2007, which state in Chapter VI: “Principle of Safety (no harm, no abuse, no neglect, no exploitation and no maltreatment): (a) At all stages, from the initial contact till such time he remains in contact with the care and protection system, and thereafter, the juvenile or child or juvenile in conflict with law shall not be subjected to any harm, abuse, neglect, maltreatment, corporal punishment or solitary or otherwise any confinement in jails and extreme care shall be taken to avoid any harm to the sensitivity of the juvenile or the child....” However, there is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in penal institutions in Jammu and Kashmir: the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2013 punishes cruelty but does not prohibit all corporal punishment.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 confirms prohibition in observation homes and other institutions for children in conflict with the law (art. 82) (see under “alternative care settings” above).

 

Sentence for crime

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a sentence for crime under the Penal Code 1860 and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, which do not provide for sentencing of offenders to corporal punishment. In Jammu and Kashmir, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2013 and the Ranbir Penal Code do not provide for judicial corporal punishment. However, throughout India, corporal punishment may be imposed under traditional justice systems, such as the Pipon system: in the absence of explicit prohibition, this appears to be lawful.

 

Universal Periodic Review of India’s human rights record

India was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2008 (session 1). No recommendations were made specifically concerning corporal punishment of children. However, the following recommendation was made and was accepted by the Government:[10]

“Take into account recommendations made by treaty bodies and special procedures, especially those relating to women and children, in developing a national action plan for human rights which is under preparation (Mexico)”

Examination in the second cycle took place in 2012 (session 13). The following recommendation was made during the review:[11]

“Introduce legislation to prohibit corporal punishment of children in all settings (Liechtenstein)”

The Government accepted the recommendation.[12]

In 2017 India underwent its third cycle examination (session 27). The following recommendations were made:[13]

“Introduce legislation to prohibit corporal punishment of children in the home and in all other settings, including as a sentence under traditional forms of justice (Liechtenstein);

“Introduce comprehensive and continuous public education, awareness raising and social mobilization programs on the harmful effects, of corporal punishment (Liechtenstein);

“Establish a database of all case of violence against children and explicitly prohibit all forms of corporal punishment of children under 18 of age in all settings (Zambia)”

The Government will examine the recommendations and respond by the 36th session of the Human Rights Council in September 2017.


Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations

Session 066 (2014)

(7 July 2014, CRC/C/IND/CO/3-4, Concluding observations on third/fourth report, paras. 47, 48, 50 and 56)

"The Committee notes the legal prohibition of corporal punishment in all educational and care institutions. However, it remains concerned that:

a) such prohibition in educational institutions only applies to children between 6 and 14 years;

b) corporal punishment is still lawful in non-institutional care settings;

c) corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure and as a sentence for a crime is not prohibited throughout the State party;

d) despite the State party’s efforts, corporal punishment continues to be widely used within the family, alternative care and school settings and within the penal system.

"With reference to the Committee’s general comment No. 8 (2006) on the right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment and its general comment No. 13 (2011) on the right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, the Committee recommends that the State party:

a) explicitly prohibit all forms of corporal punishment of children under 18 years in all settings throughout its territory;

b) introduce comprehensive and continuous public education, awarenessraising and social mobilization programmes, involving children, families, communities and traditional and religious leaders, on the harmful effects, both physical and psychological, of corporal punishment, with a view to changing the general attitude towards this practice;

c) ensure that legal proceedings are systematically initiated against those responsible for ill-treating children and that they are duly prosecuted;

d) promote positive, non-violent and participatory forms of child-rearing and discipline;

e) strengthen existing complaints mechanism with a view to ensuring that they are confidential and child-friendly.

"In line with its previous recommendations (CRC/C/15/Add.228, para. 51), the Committee urges the State party to: ...

c) establish a national database of all cases of violence against children with special emphasis on sexual abuse and corporal punishment in all settings, in particular schools, and undertake a comprehensive assessment of the extent, causes and nature of such violence....

"Recalling the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (General Assembly resolution 64/142, annex), the Committee emphasizes that financial andmaterial poverty, or conditions directly imputable thereto, should not be the sole justification for removing a child from parental care. The Committee recommends that the State party:

a) establish adequate support services for parents, as well as adopt and implement awareness-raising and training programmes on parenting skills, including on alternatives to corporal punishment...."

Read more from Session 066 (2014)

Session 035 (2004)

(26 February 2004, CRC/C/15/Add.228, Concluding observations on second report, paras. 44 and 45)

"The Committee notes the decision of the New Delhi High Court of December 2000 regarding prohibition of corporal punishment in the schools under its jurisdiction, but remains concerned that corporal punishment is not prohibited in the schools of other states, in the family, nor in other institutions for children, and remains acceptable in society.

"The Committee strongly recommends that the State party prohibit corporal punishment in the family, in schools and other institutions and undertake education campaigns to educate families, teachers and other professionals working with and/or for children on alternative ways of disciplining children."

Read more from Session 035 (2004)

Session 023 (2000)

(23 February 2000, CRC/C/15/Add.115, Concluding observations on initial report, paras. 38, 40, 44 and 45)

"With respect to article 37 (a) of the Convention, the Committee is concerned by numerous reports of routine ill-treatment, corporal punishment, torture and sexual abuse of children in detention facilities, and alleged instances of killings of children living and/or working on the streets by law enforcement officials.

"Amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act is recommended to provide for complaints and prosecution mechanisms for cases of custodial abuse of children. In addition, the Committee recommends the amendment of section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which requires government approval for prosecution of law enforcement officials when complaints of custodial abuse or illegal detention are alleged; and section 43 of the Police Act, so that police cannot claim immunity for actions while executing a warrant in cases of illegal detention or custodial abuse.

"In the light of articles 19 and 39 of the Convention, the Committee is concerned at the widespread ill-treatment of children in India, not only in schools and care institutions but also within the family.

"The Committee recommends that the State party take legislative measures to prohibit all forms of physical and mental violence, including corporal punishment and sexual abuse of children in the family, schools and care institutions. The Committee recommends that these measures be accompanied by public education campaigns about the negative consequences of ill-treatment of children. The Committee recommends that the State party promote positive, non-violent forms of discipline as an alternative to corporal punishment, especially in the home and schools. Programmes for the rehabilitation and reintegration of abused children need to be strengthened, and adequate procedures and mechanisms established to receive complaints, monitor, investigate and prosecute instances of ill-treatment."

Read more from Session 023 (2000)

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Concluding Observations

CEDAW session 058 (2014)

(18 July 2014, CEDAW/C/IND/CO/4-5 Advance Unedited Version, Concluding observations on fourth/fifth report, paras. 26 and 27)

"The Committee takes note of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, guaranteeing free and compulsory education for all children aged 6 to 14. However, it remains concerned that only 4 per cent of the GDP is spent on education, that girls with disability and minorities still register low enrolment rates, and that the dropout rate among adolescent girls is as high as 64 percent, making them particularly vulnerable to child marriage. The Committee is also concerned about girls’ low retention and completion rates at the secondary level due to early marriage, harmful practices and poverty, especially in rural areas. The Committee is equally concerned that girls are subjected to sexual harassment and violence including in conflict-affected regions where the reported occupations of schools by the security forces contributes to school drop-out.

"The Committee reiterates its previous concluding observations (CEDAW/C/IND/CO/3, 2007), and calls upon the State party to allocate increased resources for the implementation of the Free and Compulsory Education Act and to take measures to: ...

b) address safety issues for girls in and out of schools, including escort to schools for girls in unsafe areas and effective investigation and prosecution of acts of corporal punishment, harassment or gender-based violence against girls at school...."

Read more from CEDAW session 058 (2014)

Prevalence/attitudinal research for India in the last 10 years

A survey conducted in Mumbai and Bengaluru in July-September 2016 by Early Childhood Association (ECA) found on average 37% of parents threaten to hit their children, 66% hit their children, 15% sometimes hit their children and only 19% said they do not hit their children. Of those that do hit their children, this is most commonly done by both parents (76%), followed by mothers (18%), and least often by fathers (7%). After hitting the child, 53% of parents feel bad and so hug the child and/or promise a gift, 12% say sorry to the child and 36% do nothing. On average, 80% of parents said hitting has not helped to improve the child’s behavior and so now they must hit more; 11% said hitting has improved the child’s behavior and 9% didn’t comment.

(Early Childhood Association (ECA) (2016), Survey on bribing, threatening and keeping secrets, Mumbai, India: Early Childhood Association (ECA))

The Young Lives longitudinal study, which is following two cohorts of children in Ethiopia, India (the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), Peru and Vietnam over 15 years, found that in India 93% of 8 year-olds and 68% of 15 year-olds said they had been physically punished by a teacher in the past week; 78% of 8 year-olds and 34% of 15 year-olds said they had seen other children being physically punished. Among 8 year-olds, corporal punishment was more common for boys (83%) than girls (73%), in rural areas (79%) than urban areas (75%), and in public schools (80%) than private schools (77%). Almost 16% of 8 year-olds cited “teachers beating” as the most important reason for disliking school.

(Ogando Portela, M. J. & Pells, K. (2015), Corporal Punishment in Schools: Longitudinal Evidence from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Viet Nam, Innocenti Discussion Paper No. 2015-02, Florence, Italy: UNICEF Office of Research)

A study carried out in 60 schools across 6 districts of West Bengal has revealed that, despite a ban, corporal punishment still exists in as many as 30% of the schools covered, with 90% of teachers in most schools claiming that since abolition of corporal punishment they were finding it difficult to control students. Some teachers have resorted to other (also illegal) methods, with girls in 22 schools complaining of inappropriate touching by teachers while administering punishment; the use of verbal abuse and insult was reported in 13 schools.

(City Level Programme of Action (CLPOA), Association for Social and Health Advancement (ASHA) & ActionAid (2015), Children’s voice to Community Child Protection Mechanism in West Bengal: A Study, Kolkata: City Level Programme of Action (CLPOA))

According to the annual report of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), some Delhi schools still resort to corporal punishment: the Commission had to intervene in 15 such cases reported in the year 2014-15, out of a total 195 complaints filed under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

(Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), Annual Report 2014-15, Delhi, India: Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR))

A working paper published in 2014 documented a survey of nearly 3,000 children on corporal punishment in Andhra Pradesh (now bifurcated into Andhra and Telangana) from 2002 to 2009 and concluded that corporal punishment was prevalent and frequent in a typical school: 92% of children aged 7-8 years reported witnessing corporal punishment in the last typical week at school, while 77% said they had experienced it. Among older children (aged 13-14 years), 68% had witnessed corporal punishment and 34% had experienced it at school in the last week.

(Morrow, V. & Singh, R. (2014), Corporal Punishment in Schools in Andhra Pradesh, India: Children’s and Parents’ Views, Oxford: Young Lives)

In 2015, Human Unity Movement (HUM) surveyed 200 parents and 200 students of Lucknow city schools, finding that despite a ban 55% of children age 12-17 said corporal punishment is practised in their school on a daily basis. Of these, 55% said they are subjected to emotional punishment, 36% physical punishment. As many as 79% said that corporal punishment had a serious effect on their ability to learn and concentrate in class. Despite more than 63% of parents believing corporal punishment does not have a positive impact on children, 58% do not consider it important to report regular corporal punishment to the principal.

(Reported in “When words scar more than the cane”, The Times of India, 6 May 2015)

In a 2014 survey of 6-14 year olds in Delhi, 49.3% said teachers in their schools used corporal punishment. The survey was carried out carried out by the NGO Joint Operation for Social Help (JOSH).

(Reported in The Hindu, 30 March 2014)

According to child rights NGO AP Balala Hakkula Sangham, 583 cases of school corporal punishment were reported in Greater Hyderabad in January 2014; more than 1,500 were reported in 2013.

(Reported in The Indian Express, 27 January 2014)

In a study on the wellbeing and vulnerability of child domestic workers, 68% of the child domestic workers in India said their employers physically punished them. The study was conducted in 2009 in Peru, Costa Rica, Togo, Tanzania, India and Philippines with around 3,000 children, mostly aged 10-17, half of whom worked as paid or unpaid domestic workers.

(Anti-Slavery International (2013), Home Truths: Wellbeing and vulnerabilities of child domestic workers, London: Anti-Slavery International)

In a survey of 4,022 parents in 10 cities in India carried out by the Podar Institute of Education, 65% said they had “spanked” their children. Mothers were more likely than fathers to hit their children, with 77% of mothers having done so.

(Reported in Times of India, 1 November 2012)

A 2012 study of men’s childhood experiences of violence in Brazil, Chile, Croatia, India, Mexico and Rwanda, which involved men aged 18-59 living in urban settings, found a high prevalence of corporal punishment in all six countries. In India, of the 1,547 men who participated, 45% reported having been spanked or slapped by a parent in the home during childhood, 39% threatened with physical punishment in the home, and 32% humiliated by someone in their family in front of other people; 64% reported having been beaten or physically punished at school by a teacher. Men who had experienced violence, including corporal punishment, during childhood, were more likely to perpetrate intimate partner violence, hold inequitable gender attitudes, be involved in fights outside the home or robberies, pay for sex and experience low self-esteem and depression, and were less likely to participate in domestic duties, communicate openly with their partners, attend pre-natal visits when their partner is pregnant and/or take paternity leave.

(Contreras, M. et al (2012), Bridges to Adulthood: Understanding the Lifelong Influence of Men's Childhood Experiences of Violence, Analyzing Data from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey, Washington DC: International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Promundo)

A study carried out in 2009-2010 by the National Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights found that 99.9% of the children involved in the study had experienced physical or verbal punishment. Little difference was found between the prevalence of corporal punishment in private, state Government and central Government schools, or between girls’ and boys’ experiences of corporal punishment. More than eight respondents in ten (81.2%) had experienced insults about their mental characteristics or the use of derisive adjectives. Three-quarters of respondents had been beaten with a cane, 69.9% slapped on the cheek, 57.5% hit on the back, and 57.4% had had their ears “boxed”. Other punishments included being pinched, being hit on the knuckles, having their hair pulled, being forced to squat, being forbidden to use the toilet and being given electric shocks. Of children aged 3-5, 65.4% had been beaten with a cane, 60.7% slapped on the cheek. Children were punished for academic reasons (e.g. not being able to do schoolwork), for meeting their physical needs (e.g. eating), to maintain order at school (e.g. for being late) and for no apparent reason. The study involved 6,632 children aged 3-17 in seven states who took part in the study on the way to or from school.

(National Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights (2012), Eliminating Corporal Punishment in Schools, New Delhi: NCPCR)

A study carried out by Childline India Foundation between 2009 and 2011 found that students experienced corporal punishment in almost 95% of the 198 schools in 11 states studied, despite it being prohibited. Only 6% of government schools studied and 4% of private schools studied were free of corporal punishment.

(Reported in India Today, 5 January 2012, www.indiatoday.in)

A 2011 report on gender equality which involved 6,011 respondents aged 10-35 found that physical, verbal and emotional violence, including in the name of “discipline”, was common in homes and schools, and that mothers and fathers were the main perpetrators of violence.

(Plan India (2011), Engaging Men and Boys towards Gender Equality: The State of the Girl Child in India 2011)

In February 2008 the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights published a report on the state of penal institutions for children in conflict with the law, based on a detailed study of juvenile care centres (“juvenile homes”) across the country. Physical punishment was found to be a dominant “disciplinary” method in 70% of the centres.

(Reported in BigNewsNetwork.com, 18 February 2008)

In 2007, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, published the first nationwide study on child abuse in India, based on the experiences of 12,447 children aged 5-18 from across 13 states and also involving 2,324 young adults (aged 18-24) and 2,449 stakeholders (adults holding positions in government departments, private service and urban and rural local bodies, and individuals from the community). The study revealed a high prevalence of corporal punishment of children in all the settings – their family homes, schools and institutions, and on the streets. Of the total number of children, 69% reported physical abuse, including corporal punishment, in one or more situations, more commonly boys (54.68%) and young children (48.3%). In the 5-12 age group, 72.2% reported physical abuse in one or more situations, in the 13-14 year age group 70.6%, and among 15-18 year olds 62.1%. Of children abused within the family, in the majority of cases the perpetrators were parents (reported by 88.6% of respondents – 50.9% mothers, 37.6% fathers). The second most commonly reported perpetrators were teachers (44.8%), followed by employers (12.4%), caregivers (9.5%), NGO workers (4.8%) and others. The difference between boys and girls was marginal, but age was significant, with young children aged 5-12 the most vulnerable and the risk declining for 13-14 year olds and again for 15-18 year olds. The most commonly reported punishment was being slapped and kicked (63.7%), followed by being beaten with a stave or stick (31.3%), and being pushed, shaken, etc (5.0%). For many (15.6%) the hurt resulted in serious physical injury, swelling or bleeding. When stakeholders were asked for their views on physical/corporal punishment, over 44.5% felt it was necessary in disciplining children; 25.5% disagreed with its necessity; 30.0% expressed no opinion. When asked about the most suitable form of punishment, 35.2% said scolding or shouting, 11.3% slapping or beating with a stick; almost 11% felt locking a child in a room or denying food was suitable punishment.

(Kacker, L. et al (2007), Study on Child Abuse: India 2007, New Delhi: Ministry of Women and Child Development)

As part of the Supporting Positive Alternatives in Raising Kindness in Education (SPARKE) project, questionnaires with teachers, parents and 201 students aged 8-18 were carried out before and after a project that aimed to promote the use of positive discipline in five schools in northern India. Before the project, 78.9% of boys and 40.7% of girls aged 8-11, 74.1% of boys and 54.3% of girls aged 12-15 and 80% of boys and 65.2% of girls aged 16-18 had experienced corporal punishment in the past year. More than eight teachers in ten (83.3%) had used corporal punishment, 43.5% “occasionally”, 33.3% a few times a month and 6.5% at least once a week. Types of corporal punishment included forcing children to stay in uncomfortable or painful positions or do physical exercise, twisting children’s ears, slapping, pinching, caning and kicking children. Students also experienced verbal punishments, such as being ridiculed or insulted. Before the project, 72.3% of teachers wanted to find alternatives to corporal punishment and 87.7% thought teaching staff needed training in alternative disciplining methods. Nearly seven in ten teachers (68.3%) and 44.9% of students said they would like to be part of a group in their school working against corporal punishment. After the project, 33.3% of boys and 10.3% of girls aged 8-11, 52.2% of boys and 34.7% of girls aged 12-15 and 48.2% of boys and 25.9% of girls aged 16-18 had experienced corporal punishment in the past ten months. Before the project, between 39% and 69% of students thought corporal punishment should be used in school. After the project, 13%-39% thought corporal punishment should be used in school, with 52-80% thinking it should not be used, and 73-84% saying they would like their teachers to use positive discipline methods instead of corporal punishment.

(Cedar Woods Consulting Group for SOIR-IM (2007), Supporting Positive Alternatives in Raising Kindness in Education: The SPARKE Research Report)

In research in urban schools in Andhra Pradesh in 2006, 59% of students said a teacher had hit them on the palms of the hands with a cane; 71% had witnessed this kind of punishment in school. Other kinds of corporal punishment included forcing children to kneel in uncomfortable positions, slapping or spanking and beating on the knuckles. Forty-five per cent of students said they had witnessed corporal punishment which caused swelling and 22% had seen it cause bleeding; 13% had witnessed corporal punishment which necessitated a visit to a doctor. Only 25% of students who experienced corporal punishment at school chose to tell their parents about it; 23% of those who did not tell their parents said this was because their parents would beat them too. Children from lower income groups were more likely to experience corporal punishment. The research involved nearly 600 children and over 300 adults, including teachers and parents, through interviews and group discussions.

(Devi Prasad, B. (2006), Spare the Rod and Save the Child: A Study of the Corporal punishment in urban schools of Andhra Pradesh, Child Rights Advocacy Foundation-Vijayawada, www.endcorporalpunishment.org/children/countries/india/india-research.html)

A large scale research study conducted in May 2006 by Saath Charitable Trust and supported by Plan International (India) looked at children’s experiences of corporal punishment in schools and in the home in one district in each of four states – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. The research involved 1,591 children mostly from 41 schools as well as members of various children’s organisations. Parents, teachers (215), community members, government officials and other adults were also consulted. The main methods used were interviews, focus group discussions, role-play and classroom observation. The study found corporal punishment to be an accepted way of life in all the schools and communities visited. The most common forms of punishments were hitting with hands and stick, pulling hair and ears, and telling children to stand for long period in various positions. Threats of physical violence were also common. Severe forms of corporal punishment were encountered, including being severely kicked, starvation, tying with rope to chairs/poles followed by beatings, and being assigned physically strenuous labour (e.g. in the fields). In all schools, there would be at least five beatings every day, in addition to other more moderate forms of punishment, though the punishments were less severe than those experienced in the home. Punishment in the home was inflicted by mothers and fathers on both girls and boys with equal severity, more frequently for boys.

(Saath Charitable Trust/Plan International, India (2006), Impact of Corporal Punishment on School Children: A Research Study – Final Report)

A large scale comparative study (World Studies of Abuse in the Family Environment (WorldSAFE)) which involved surveys with over 14,000 mothers of children under 18, carried out between 1998 and 2003, examined parental discipline in Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, Philippines, and the United States. In India, the rate of “moderate” physical discipline (including spanking a child’s buttocks, hitting a child with an object, slapping a child’s face and putting hot pepper in a child’s mouth) ranged from 63% in urban and rural communities in Vellore to 89% in a rural community in Bhopal. The rate of harsh physical discipline (including burning, beating up, kicking and smothering a child) ranged from 2.7% in a non-slum community in Delhi to 39% in a rural community in Bhopal. The rate of harsh psychological discipline such as calling children names, cursing them and threatening to abandon them or kick them out ranged from 40% in a non-slum community in Chennai to 81% in a rural community in Lucknow. “Moderate” psychological discipline, including yelling or screaming at children, refusing to speak to them or witholding food was experienced by between 76% of children (in a rural community in Vellore) and 96% of children (in an urban slum community in Nagpur). Non-violent discipline, including explaining why a behaviour was wrong and telling a child to stop, was also widely used (89-99%). The study found that rates of harsh physical discipline were dramatically higher in all communities than published rates of official physical abuse in any country, and that rates of physical punishment can vary widely among communities within the same country.

(Runyan, D. et al (2010), “International Variations in Harsh Child Discipline”, Pediatrics, published online 2 August 2010, www.pediatrics.org)

Footnotes

[1] Third/fourth report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2012), ch. 4, para. 40

[2] SAIEVAC (2011), Prohibition of corporal punishment of children in South Asia: a progress review

[3] Third/fourth report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2012), ch. 4, para. 40, ch. 4

[4] 9 July 2012, A/HRC/21/10, Report of the working group, para. 138(104)

[5] National Policy for Children 2013, para. 4.6(xv)

[6] 1 May 2014, CRC/C/IND/Q/3-4/Add.1, Reply to list of issues, pp. 29 and 31. (There are 29 states, seven Union Territories and one National Capital Region in India.)

[7] The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Act 2012

[8] Society for Un-aided Private Schools of Rajasthan vs U. O. I. & Anr., Write Petitions (C) No. 95 of 2010 et al

[9] Hasmukhbhai Gokaldas Shah v. State of Gujarat, 17 November 2008

[10] 23 May 2008, A/HRC/8/26, Report of the working group, para. 86(11)

[11] 9 July 2012, A/HRC/21/10, Report of the working group, para. 138(104)

[12] 17 September 2012, A/HRC/21/10/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum

[13] 8 May 2017, A/HRC/WG.6/27/L.8, Draft report of the working group, unedited version, paras. 5(233), 5(234) and 5(235)

Child population

451,990,000 (UNICEF, 2015)

Forthcoming treaty body examinations and UPRs

No upcoming examination

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