PETALING JAYA: The Government’s plan to abolish the caning of minors in court is the right move, say child groups and activists.
Voice of the Children president Sharmila Sekaran said caning in courts should be replaced with rehabilitative punishment methods such as counselling.
“Caning only makes children fearful. Other methods should be looked into to encourage and teach our children, which requires time and effort,” she said.
Sharmila said corporal punishment or caning was only suitable for adults.
On Monday, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry had denied reports that there was a proposal to outlaw the caning of children by parents and teachers.
Instead, the ministry said it had only proposed to abolish caning of minors in court.
The ministry was clarifying newspaper reports that quoted Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim as saying that parents who use the cane on their children could be jailed under a new Act to be tabled in June to replace the Child Act 2001.
Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said the Government should not rush to criminalise parents for caning or spanking their children.
The former Women, Family and Community Development Minister said any move to outlaw corporal punishment for children to align local laws to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) should be scrutinised carefully.
“My view is that although Malaysia is a country which supports the CRC, the Government need not be hasty,” Shahrizat said.
She added that priority should be on what was important for children and parents, based on Malaysia’s own mould.
Child rights activist Dr Hartini Zainudin said that if Malaysia pushed for the abolition of caning of minors, the country would be the first in South-East Asia to do so.
“Corporal punishment, especially on children, is more about humiliation than anything else.
“Authorities should find a more effective way and not subject children on such inhuman and degrading treatment,” she said.
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