Corporal punishment is legal in religious settings

And speaking of beating up on children

Britain’s madrassas have faced more than 400 allegations of physical abuse in the past three years, a BBC investigation has discovered.

But only a tiny number have led to successful prosecutions.

Some local authorities said community pressure had led families to withdraw

In one physical abuse case in Lambeth, two members of staff at a mosque
allegedly attacked children with pencils and a phone cable – but the victims
later refused to take the case further.

Mustn’t annoy the imam, must we.

Corporal punishment is legal in religious settings, so long as it does not
exceed “reasonable chastisement”.

What does that mean?  Corporal punishment is legal in religious settings in particular? Exclusively? At any rate, it’s ridiculous – corporal punishment shouldn’t be legal anywhere. It’s a mistake to trust people to know what’s “reasonable chastisement” and what isn’t.



  1. says

    Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, said:

    “Abuse was far too common, …[“S]ome kind of system must be put in place to ensure that only teaching takes place there, not sexual or physical abuse.”

    He left out indoctrination – which is one of the most insidious types of abuse that exist, where vulnerable young minds are concerned.

  2. says

    Why on Earth would religious settings be exempt!? Corporal punishment is corporal punishment, regardless of the setting.

  3. says

    I think the BBC got its facts wrong here, sadly. I say sadly because the facts are actually so much worse.

    The situation is that despite the ban on use of corporal punishment in schools there is still a common law defence of “reasonable punishment” or “reasonable chastisement.” Anyone charged with assaulting a child (but not an adult) can invoke this defence, and of course it’s up to the prosecution to prove that the treatment was unreasonable–this forces the court to assume that some assaults on a child may be reasonable.

    So we remain decade after decade in this shameful state of affairs against the professional advice of education experts and psychologists, and in violation of the UK’s own treaty commitments to the ECHR and UNO.

  4. Dunc says

    I strongly suspect that this could be challenged under the HRA or the ECHR, but you’d have to find somebody to actually bring the case… Unfortunately, the very people who are most likely to send their kids to religious schools are the least likely to bring such a case. Quite a lot of the time they’re sending their kids to these schools precisely because they actively approve of this sort of thing.

  5. Simon says

    In the US only 31 states have banned it in public schools while only two have banned it in private schools as well.

    The 19 states that have not banned it are mostly in the South. It is still used to a significant (though declining)[95] degree in some public schools in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.


    PS I say “only” 31 states because it’s a disgraceful practice and IMO should be banned everywhere.

  6. sailor1031 says

    Any form of flagellation, other than between consenting adults, is abuse and is wrong, whether legal or not. I do not know of an exception granted by law in the UK to religion. Can someone enlighten me?
    Just another ‘scripture’-based barbarism that needs to go.

  7. Rudi says

    It’s pretty simple – if a Muslim cleric physically assaults a child, all he (and it is always a he) has to do his cry “racism” and the police run a mile. Same for Muslim men who batter their wives, etc.

    The UK is by and large a very tolerant, inclusive country that shuns bigotry and domestic violence – that is, unless you happen to be a female Muslim adult, a male homosexual Muslim adult, or a child of Muslim parents. In which case, apparently, your human rights are trumped by the rights of male Muslim adults to treat you however they damn well want.

    (I will add the standard caveat that, of course, most Muslim men are not misogynist assholes, and that I am talking about the salient minority that are, and are given a free pass by our cowardly police service.)

  8. says

    A recent study in Germany about sexual abuse of minors links the decrease in sexual abuse of under 16 year olds to the banning of corporal punishment (among other factors): German link
    Because violent people are often also sexually abusive, and if you think about it, it even makes “common” sense:
    Battering spouses are usually also sexually abusive and people who think they can cross one line and disrespect the child’s bodily integrity are more likely to do so again, especially if nobody sees anything wrong with one kind of abuse and the lines are blurry.

  9. Timothy (TRiG) says

    I heard the investigation on File on Four last night. One family which did prosecute when their sons were beaten up faced all kinds of community pressure to drop the case. And one guy from the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain who was trying to bring in safeguards against this kind of abuse was told he was “bringing shame on the community”. He explicitly mentioned parallels with the Roman Catholic scandals.


  10. Vicki says

    And the Welsh government isn’t going to change the law on corporal punishment at least until 2016. (Apparently this is a devolved power, no longer necessarily under “the law of England and Wales.”)

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