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Ending Corporal Punishment in Turkey through a Legal Reform

All children have the right to freedom from violence, including corporal punishment. This right is a pivotal element of a democratic society because it denotes an environment whereby children can be active citizens who can participate in democratic decision making mechanisms, be part of the organised civil society, speak up their own thoughts, needs and concerns as well as can claim, exercise and enjoy their own rights without fear of reprisal in the form of corporal punishment.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child “defines ‘corporal’ or ‘physical’ punishment as any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.”[1] Corporal punishment is affront to “the right of the child to respect for the child’s human dignity and physical integrity and equal protection under the law.”[2] Although hitting someone adult is illegal, many countries including Turkey created such legal excuses as a made-up right of an adult with child rearing authority to discipline a child to use ‘reasonable’ violence against a person. It is legally sanctioned discrimination against children as a group based on their social status. It is one of the last bastions that needs to be eliminated to raise children’s status as equal persons before the law.

Corporal punishment as a child rearing and child discipline practice due to perceived nature of childhood as a ‘period of becoming’ and wide social acceptance is still legal in Turkey in the home, alternative care settings, day care, and schools. 

Therefore, Partnership Network to Prevent Violence against Children (PNPVAC) led by two of its members, International Children’s Centre (ICC) and Foundation for Promotion of Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education (YÖRET) along with Swedish Institute (SI) in the framework of Young Voices (YV) supported by the Swedish Consulate General in Istanbul (SCGI) came together with an objective to contribute to the enhancement of respect for and fulfilment of children’s right with a focus on freedom from corporal punishment in Turkey through facilitating a process of  legal and social reform to ban corporal punishment in Turkey.

There were two meetings envisaged within the framework of this year’s programme. One was in the form of a roundtable and the other was in the form of a panel to kick start a social media campaign organised by the PNPVAC.

Roundtable – 07 December 2015, from 13h30 – 17h00

Roundtable was an initiative of YÖRET and the Swedish Consulate General in Istanbul in collaboration with ICC, SI and Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment of Children (GI).

The objective of the roundtable was to bring key stakeholders around the table to discuss and draw a draft roadmap for Turkey in banning and eliminating corporal punishment of children.

It is designed for policy makers from relevant ministries such as Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Family and Social Policy as well as the Ombudsperson responsible for children, National Institute for Human Rights and law makers from the Parliament.

Key speakers were

·         Peter Newell, Coordinator of Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment of Children

·         Pernilla Leviner, Associate Professor in Public Law, Stockholm Centre for the Rights of the Child, Faculty of Law, Stockholm University

·         Rýza Türmen, Former Judge, European Court of Human Rights

·         Dilek Kumcu, Parliamentary Advisor

Pursuant to the roundtable, a report will be drafted and used by the PNPVAC in its advocacy and campaigning towards elimination of corporal punishment until it is explicitly banned.

Panel – 08 December 2015, from 09h30 to 12h30

Panel was an initiative of the PNPVAC in collaboration with the ICC, the YÖRET, the Swedish Consulate General in Istanbul, the SI and the GI.

The objective is to share the initial output of the roundtable with the members of the PNPVAC and get their input in launching a campaign to end corporal punishment in Turkey.

The majority of the participants were representatives from the member NGOs of the PNPVAC along with the media.

The Panel was a reflection of the roundtable.
 
[1] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. (2006). General Comment No. 8: The right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and other cruelor degrading forms of punishment (arts. 19; 28, para. 2; and 37, inter alia). Para. 11. Retrieved from 
[2] Ibid § para 2.  
 
 
 
 

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