Legal ban on violence against children


The legal ban on violence against children

The UN Study on Violence against Children urges States to: “prohibit all forms of violence against children, in all settings, including all corporal punishment, harmful traditional practices, such as early and forced marriages, female genital mutilation and so-called honour crimes, sexual violence, and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as required by international treaties, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

States must enact and enforce legislation to effectively prohibit, prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children. Some forms of violence against children, such as corporal punishment, are tolerated by society. In such cases, it is particularly important for the law to be explicit and ban these practices.

Unfortunately, most children are not yet fully protected by law from all forms of violence in all settings. In countries where there has been progress, further efforts are required to narrow the gap between law and practice.

The law must convey an unequivocal message that children’s right to freedom from all forms of violence must be safeguarded everywhere and at all times. To prohibit violence, some countries have undertaken constitutional reforms, while others have introduced new provisions in family and criminal codes, in child protection and domestic violence legislation.

Legal prohibition must be supported by detailed provisions in specific pieces of legislation, both to address distinct forms of violence, such as sexual abuse and exploitation, trafficking or harmful traditional practices, and to tackle violence in specific settings, including schools, care and justice institutions and in the home.

Enabling laws and regulations in relevant legal fields are also critical to give full meaning to the prohibition. This increases States’ capacity to deter incidents of violence, to protect the children concerned, to ensure appropriate support for the process of enforcement and to end impunity.


Examples of legislation containing a general prohibition on violence against children


The Federal Constitutional Act on the Rights of Children 2011 contains 8 articles defining the rights of the child with Articles 1 and 5 guaranteeing all children the right to protection and a non-violent upbringing. Article 1 affords every child the right to protection and care that is necessary for his/her well-being, development and in consideration of his/her own best interest. Article 5 explicitly states that every child has the right to a non-violent upbringing, prohibiting corporal punishment, the infliction of mental suffering, sexual abuse and other abuses and confirming that every child has the right to protection from economic and sexual exploitation. The second paragraph of Article 5 provides that every child who is a victim of violence or exploitation has a right to adequate compensation and rehabilitation.


There is a range of constitutional and statutory provisions that prohibit violence against children in Ireland, including those relating to assault, cruelty and endangerment.The Children First Act 2015 was passed by the Irish parliament on 11 November 2015 and came into effect on 11 December 2015 to afford more comprehensive provisions for the care and protection of children from harm by requiring that providers of services to children prepare child safeguarding statements and formalizing reporting procedures to the Child and Family Agency.  Harm is explicitly defined in this Act as “(a) assault, ill-treatment or neglect of the child in a manner that seriously affects or is likely to seriously affect the child’s health, development or welfare, or (b) sexual abuse of the child, whether caused by a single act, omission or circumstance or a series or combination of acts, omissions or circumstances.” Section 28 of the Children First Act repeals the common law defence of “reasonable chastisement” by way of an amendment to the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997, thereby achieving prohibition of corporal punishment in the home.


The new Constitution came into force in August 2010. Article 29 prohibits any form of violence from either public or private sources. This ban is binding for all State organs and all persons. Article 53.d provides that “every child has the right to be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, all forms of violence, inhuman treatment and punishment, and hazardous or exploitative labour.”


Lao PDR Law on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Children (No. 56/NA Vientiane Capital City, 2015) aims to eliminate all forms of violence against women and children including any behavior that may result in danger, harm, physical, psychological, sexual, or economic suffering [or damage to] the property of women and children by defining the principles, rules, and measures in place for preventing violence as well as provisions of assistance for victims of violence, in order to protect and uphold the rights, dignity and interests of women and children, with a view towards gender equality, peace, justice and public order.


The Law on the Rights of the Child 2016 explicitly confirms children’s right to be protected from violence, including corporal punishment (art. 7.1, unofficial translation): “Children have the right to be protected from crime, offences or any forms of violence, physical punishment, psychological abuse, neglect and exploitation in all social settings.”; Law on the Rights of the Child (Feb. 5, 2016), Mongolian Legal Information Integrated System website (in Mongolian).


Article 4 of the Code of Children and Adolescents affords children the right to moral, psychological and physical integrity. It also prohibits torture, cruel or degrading treatment. Forced labour, economic exploitation, prostitution, trafficking, the sale of children and other forms of exploitation are considered extreme forms of violence. The Law prohibiting the use of physical and other humiliating punishment against children and adolescents of 2015 (“Ley que prohibe el uso del castigo físico y humillante contra los niños, niñas y adolescents”) introduced a new Article 3A in the Code of Children and adolescents: “Children and adolescents, without exception, are entitled to good treatment, which means to receive care, affection, protection, socialization and nonviolent education in a harmonious, supportive and nurturing environment in which comprehensive protection will be provided, either by their parents, tutors, or legal representatives, as well as their teachers, administrative, public or private authorities or anyone else.” The right to good treatment is reciprocal among children and adolescents.


The Swedish Penal Code contains an extensive list of articles prohibiting sexual violence against children.  Other articles prohibiting physical and psychological violence also apply when the victims are children, although children are not specifically mentioned. The Children and Parents Code was amended in 1979 to include a ban on physical punishment and humiliating treatment of children. Chapter 6, section 1 of the code highlights that “Children are entitled to care, security and a good upbringing. Children are to be treated with respect for their person and individuality and may not be subjected to corporal punishment or any other humiliating treatment.” Sweden was the first country to introduce a specific ban on corporal punishment of children.


Legislation establishing comprehensive child protection systems


Law 13.431 establishes a comprehensive child protection system to safeguard the rights of child victims and witnesses of violence.  The legislation urges the federal government, states and local governments to develop comprehensive and well-coordinated policies to secure children’s right to freedom from violence in all settings, including the home and family.

Law 13.431 recognizes the right of the child to access information and legal representation, to participate in decisions affecting her/him, to protection from re-victimization and to benefit from reparation and relevant support services.

The law also establishes accessible, safe, confidential and child-friendly reporting, counselling and complaint mechanisms for child victims and witnesses of violence, recognizing the right of a child who has experienced violence to be listened to by a well-trained professional and in a child-friendly environment.

You can access the legislation here.


Legislation covering specific forms of violence against children in different settings

Sexual exploitation of children through prostitution

In Cambodia all acts provided in Article 3 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography are criminalized. The Law-on-Suppression-of-Human-Trafficking-and-Sexual-Exploitationincludes the following provisions. 1) Offering: Article 35: soliciting or advertising child prostitution for the purpose of acting as an intermediary of child prostitution (as an individual or a business); 2) Obtaining: Article 34: an offence to have sexual intercourse or engage in other sexual conduct of all kinds with a minor over age 7 by providing or promising to provide anything of value to the minor, an intermediary, a parent, a guardian or any person keeping the child under his supervision or control; 3) Procuring: Articles 25 and 29: an offence to draw a financial profit from the prostitution of others; assist or protect the prostitution of others; recruit, induce or train a person with a view to them practicing prostitution; or to exercise pressure on a person to become a prostitute; and 4) Providing: Articles 30 and 32: an offence to manage, exploit, operate or finance an establishment of prostitution or to make premises available for prostitution. In Article 23, child prostitution is defined as “having sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct of all kinds between a minor and another person in exchange for anything of value.” In Article 7 a “minor” is defined as “a person under the age of eighteen years.” Article 24 explicitly exempts from punishment a minor who solicits for the purpose of prostitution.

Sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism

Countless numbers of traveling offenders aim to escape responsibility for their criminal acts by exploiting children in countries other than their own. In order to protect children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism, it is important to ensure territorial and extraterritorial jurisdiction. This allows a State to hold foreigners accountable for offences that occur within its territory and hold its own nationals (and even the non-citizens permanently residing within its territory) accountable for crimes that they commit outside, in the territory of another State.

In Singapore, the Penal Code (rev. ed. 2008) has provisions to cover both territorial and extra-territorial jurisdiction. Section 2, states that “Every person shall be liable to punishment under this Code and not otherwise for every act or omission contrary to the provisions thereof, of which he is guilty within Singapore, while Section 376C (1) provides that “Any person, being a citizen or a permanent resident of Singapore, who does, outside Singapore, any act that would, if done in Singapore, constitute an offence under section 376B, shall be guilty of an offence”.

Equally important, section 376D (1) promotes accountability for acts to assist and prepare for SECTT: “Any person who (a) makes or organizes any travel arrangements for or on behalf of any other person with the intention of facilitating the commission by that other person of an offence under section 376C, whether or not such an offence is actually committed by that other person; (b) transports any other person to a place outside Singapore with the intention of facilitating the commission by that other person of an offence under section 376C, whether or not such an offence is actually committed by that other person; or (c) prints, publishes or distributes any information that is intended to promote conduct that would constitute an offence under section 376C, or to assist any other person to engage in such conduct, shall be guilty of an offence”. The publication of information means publication of information “by any means, whether by written, electronic, or other form of communication”.

Child abuse

In March 2017, Chile passed Law 21.013 “Law on the abuse of children and adolescents, the elderly and persons with disabilities." 

This new law provides that an act of corporal abuse that is "relevant" within the meaning of the legislation will be considered a crime. This rule implies a departure from the concept of habitual mistreatment that regulates the domestic violence law already in force in the country, which requires that the abuse cause harm as a result of bodily injury to the victim´s physical integrity.

Child trafficking

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children supplementing the United Nations Convention against transnational organized crime (Palermo Protocol) article 3 (c) and (d) provides that “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in persons”. “Child” shall mean any person under eighteen years of age.

Malaysia builds upon this definition in the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act 2007. Section 2 defines a “child” as “a person who is under the age of eighteen years” and states; “trafficking in persons” or “traffics in persons” means the recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring, providing or receiving of a person for the purpose of exploitation. In line with the Palermo Protocol, “exploitation” means “all forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, any illegal activity or the removal of human organs.”

The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act 2007, Section 3 (a) applies: “if Malaysia is the receiving country or the exploitation occurs in Malaysia”; or (b) “if the receiving country is a foreign country but the trafficking in persons starts in Malaysia or transits Malaysia.”

Importantly, Section 4 includes broad extra-territorial offences: “Any offence under this Act committed” (a) “on the high seas on board any ship or on any aircraft registered in Malaysia”; (b) “by any citizen or permanent resident of Malaysia on the high seas on board any ship or on any aircraft”; or (c) “by any citizen or any permanent resident in any place outside and beyond the limits of Malaysia, may be dealt with as if it had been committed at any place within Malaysia.”

Child Abduction

In Brunei Darussalam, the Penal Code differentiates between kidnapping and abduction. Section 359 criminalises kidnapping of two kinds — kidnapping from Brunei Darussalam, and kidnapping from lawful guardianship. Section 360 provides “Whoever conveys any person beyond the limits of Brunei Darussalam, without the consent of that person, or of some person legally authorised to consent on behalf of that person, is said to kidnap that person from Brunei Darussalam.” Section 362 provides: “Whoever by force complies, or by any deceitful means induces, any person to go from any place, is said to abduct that person.”

According to Section 361, “Whoever takes or entices any minor under 14 years of age if a male, or under 16 years of age if a female, or any person of unsound mind, out of the keeping of the lawful guardian of such minor or person of unsound mind, without the consent of such guardian, is said to kidnap such minor or person from lawful guardianship.” The words “lawful guardian” in this section include “any person lawfully entrusted with the care or custody of such minor or other person”.

Article 2.1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires States Parties to respect and ensure the rights set forth in the Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind. The differentiation in legal protection of girls and boys may constitute discrimination on the grounds of age and gender and should therefore be equal for every child.

Myanmar has similar legislation in its Penal Code Sections 360 to 362.

Harmful practices (General prohibition)

In Lesotho, the Child Welfare and Protection Act 2011 prohibits harmful practices, stating in section 16. (1) that “A child has a right to be protected from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including any cultural practice which degrades or is injurious to the physical, psychological, emotional and mental well-being of the child”.

Moreover, in section 17 “A child shall not be subjected to any cultural rites, customs or traditional practices that are likely to negatively affect the child’s life, health, welfare, dignity or physical, emotional, psychological, mental and intellectual development”.

In Malawi, the Gender Equality Act 2013, a general prohibition of harmful practices is placed under Part II, covering different forms of sex discrimination. In article 5 (1) “A person shall not commit, engage in, subject another person to, or encourage the commission of any harmful practice”. The sentence for such offences is provided for under section 5 (2) of the Act, a maximum fine of 1 million Kwacha and five years of imprisonment.

On November 23, 2016 an HIV-positive Malawian man who confessed that he was paid to have sex with widows and under-age girls was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labour for engaging in harmful cultural practices. This was the first case of its kind in Malawi.

Protecting girls from rape and honour killings

On 6 October 2016, the Parliament in Pakistan passed two laws to increase sentences for rapes and honour killings of girls and women, and closed a loophole that allowed many of the killers to go free. Most of the killings have not been prosecuted, due to a tenet of Islamic law that allows killers to go free if they are forgiven by the girl’s or woman’s family. Since the perpetrators are usually family members, such impunity is often the norm. Under the new law, relatives of the victim would only be able to pardon the killer if he is sentenced to capital punishment. However, the culprit would still face a mandatory life sentence.

Rape conviction rates have been almost non-existent, due in large part to various technical obstacles to accessing justice. The penalty in the new law will be imprisonment for 25 years he said. The rape of minors and the mentally and physically disabled has also become punishable under the law.

On 26 July 2017, the Tunisian parliament adopted a law on eliminating violence against women and eliminating impunity for perpetrators, recognizing that violence against women includes economic, sexual, political and psychological violence. Among other things, the law repealed a provision of the penal code that allowed a rapist to escape punishment if he married his victim. It also criminalizes the employment of children as domestic workers. 

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C)

In Burkina Faso, the Penal Code criminalises those that practice FGM/C. Article 380 provides that “Anyone who harms the female genital organs by total ablation, excision, infibulation, desensitisation or any other means shall be punishable by six months to three years’ imprisonment and a fine ranging from CFA francs 150,000 to 900,000 or by one of these two punishments only. Should this result in death, the punishment shall be five to ten years’ imprisonment”. Furthermore, in Article 381 “The maximum punishment shall be meted out if the guilty party is a member of the medical or paramedical profession. Moreover, he or she may be disbarred from practice by the courts for up to five years.” In Article 382 – “Any person who is aware of acts as defined by Article 380 and who fails to notify the competent authorities shall be punishable by a fine ranging from CFA francs 50,000 to 100,000.”

Sexual slavery, customary servitude and forced labour

“Trokosi”, practiced in Ghana and other West African countries is a religious form of sexual slavery and violence against children that involves sending young virgin girls to religious shrines to atone for the crimes committed by their male relatives. Ghana’s constitutionArticle 16 (1) prohibits slavery and servitude, which includes trokosi.

A more detailed prohibition is included in the Criminal Code, Section 314A: (1) Whoever (a) sends to or receives at any place any person; or (b) participates in or is concerned in any ritual or customary activity in respect of any person with the purpose of subjecting that person to any form of ritual or customary servitude or any form of forced labour related to a customary ritual commits an offense and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than three years.

Child and forced marriage

The majority of countries around the world have legislation that sets a general minimum age of marriage at age 18 or above. However, legal exceptions are often foreseen, based on parental consent, authorisation from a court, or provided by customary or religious laws. According to a recent study, in only 43% of countries are boys and girls protected equally and adequately from early marriage.

In Ethiopia, the Revised Family Code (2000) protects girls and boys equally. Article 7.1) provides: “Neither a man nor a woman who has not attained the full age of eighteen years shall conclude marriage”. In 2) dispensation may be granted at the age of 16: “Notwithstanding the provisions of Sub-Article (1) of this Article, the Minister of Justice may, on the application of the future spouses, or the parents or guardian of one of them for serious cause, grant dispensation of not more than two years”.

Article 6 provides that “A valid marriage shall take place only when the spouses have given their free and full consent.”

In Australia, forced marriage is criminalised under Section 270.7A of the Criminal Code, which defines forced marriage as: (1) A marriage is a forced marriage if one party to the marriage (the victim) entered into the marriage without freely and fully consenting: (a) because of the use of coercion, threat or deception; or (b) because the party was incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony.

Moreover, in (4) special protection is afforded to persons under 16 years of age: “For the purposes of proving an offence against this Division or Division 271, a person under 16 years of age is presumed, unless the contrary is proved, to be incapable of understanding the nature and effect of a marriage ceremony”. Forced marriage carries a penalty of 7 years imprisonment or 9 years imprisonment for an aggravated offence. Section 270.8 on Slavery-like offences—aggravated offences provides: (1) For the purposes of this Division, a slavery-like offence committed by a person (the offender) against another person (the victim) is an aggravated offence when (a) the victim is under 18 years of age.

On August 17, 2017, El Salvador approved an amendment to the Family Code to abolish child marriage in the country, establishing the marriage age at 18. 

In June 2017, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago passed a law entitled “An Act to amend the Marriage Act, Chap. 45:01, the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, Chap. 45:02, the Hindu Marriage Act, Chap. 45:03, the Orisa Marriage Act, Chap. 45:04 and the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act, Chap. 45:51 ”, which changed the marriage age to 18. 


In some countries femicide is often carried out with brutality that includes torture and mutilation.

In Guatemala, the Law Against Femicide and Other Forms of Violence Against Women(Decree 22-2008) defines “femicide” as the “violent death of a woman (or girl) by virtue of her gender, as it occurs in the context of the unequal gender relations between men and women.”. The penalty is from 25 to 50 year prison term (article 6). The legislation establishes specialized judicial courts and a Crimes against Life Unit, charged with reviewing and investigating cases of femicide and gender-based violence, as well as resources for the Centers of Integral Support for Female Survivors of Violence.

In Brazil, legislation amending Brazil’s Penal Code on femicide, the gender-motivated killing of women and girls, sets tougher penalties and defines “femicide” as any crime that involves domestic violence, discrimination or contempt for women, which results in their death. It imposes harder sentences for crimes committed against pregnant women, girls under 14, women over 60 and women and girls with disabilities. Brazil is the 16th Latin American state to include a femicide in its national legal framework.

Bullying, including cyberbullying

The adoption of specific anti-bullying legislation, particularly on cyberbullying, is a relatively recent phenomenon. The absence of specific legislation does not necessarily indicate a legal vacuum, since States may address bullying using current provisions in their constitutional, criminal, civil and educational law. In criminal law, this encompasses provisions concerning harassment, assault, disclosure of personal information and incitement to hatred. Civil law provides remedies such as taking action for defamation or harassment, and redress may also be sought through national Ombudsman’s institutions or data-protection agencies.

New Zealand has adopted the Harmful Digital Communications Act (2015), which criminalizes the sending of messages and the posting of material online that deliberately cause serious emotional distress or incitement to suicide. The legislation is designed to deter and prevent harmful communications, reduce their impact on victims and establish new systems for quickly resolving complaints and removing damaging online material. It provides a broad range of court-ordered remedies, including: taking down material; publishing a correction or an apology; giving the complainant a right of reply; or releasing the identity of the source of an anonymous communication.

In other countries, remedies have been established enabling victims of bullying to initiate civil proceedings or to seek protection orders, as well as measures prohibiting communication with a specified person, restricting the use of means of electronic communication or confiscating, temporarily or permanently, electronic devices used for cyberbullying.

Legislation may involve the establishment of a dedicated body to tackle cyberbullying, including the investigation of complaints, setting standards for online safety, liaising with Internet intermediaries and end users responsible for generating content to find a swift resolution to complaints or issuing formal requests to Internet intermediaries or end users to remove material.

In Australia, the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act (2015) established a Children’s eSafety Commissioner to administer a complaints system for cyberbullying material, providing for the rapid removal from social media of damaging material targeted at a child while also promoting online safety for children.

In Japan, the Promotion of Measures to Prevent Bullying Act (2013) requires schools to establish groups composed of teachers, staff and experts in psychology, child welfare and related fields to implement bullying prevention measures. Schools are also obliged to strengthen their capacity to counsel and consult with children and young people.

In the province of Ontario, Canada, school board requirements for student safety, including bullying prevention and intervention are set out in The Education Act. Amendments made to the Education Act (Bill 212, Progressive Discipline and School Safety Act, 2007) added bullying to the list of activities leading to a possible suspension. The Progressive Discipline and School Safety Act, 2007 combined discipline with opportunities for students to keep learning with a greater emphasis on prevention and early intervention.

Furthermore, the Keeping Our Children Safe at School Act, 2010 requires all board employees to report serious student incidents (e.g. bullying based on homophobia). All board employees who work directly with students are required to respond to inappropriate and disrespectful student behaviour (e.g. homophobic or sexist comments).

The Accepting Schools Act, 2012, which is the first of its kind in Canada has a comprehensive, evidence-based definition of bullying, including cyber-bullying. It creates legal obligations for boards to have policies to foster positive school climates and take measures to prevent and address inappropriate student behaviour. The legislation and its related policies make it clear that bullying and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex, race, disability or any other factors are unacceptable in Ontario’s schools.

Violent, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in care and justice systems

In Chile, the Juvenile Justice Law regulates specific aspects of the sanctions used when children are deprived of liberty. These measures are oriented toward the social reintegration of the adolescent in a free environment, including socio-educative programs for personal development. In relation to the order and security within centres of deprivation of liberty, the law provides that internal rules shall be compatible with the rights set forth in the Constitution, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, other international instruments ratified by Chile and the law. The law provides further that internal regulations will govern the exceptional and restrictive use of force, implying that it will only be used when there is no other alternative available and for the shortest period of time. Moreover, regulations must prohibit disciplinary measures such ascorporal punishment, detention in obscure cells, isolation or solitary confinement, as well as any other punishment that might put the mental or physical health of the adolescent in danger or might be deemed as cruel, inhumane or degrading.

In Indonesia, the Law No. 11/2012 (entered into force in 2014) is framed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and addresses children as offenders, as victims and as witnesses of crimes. Status offences are decriminalized. The minimum age of criminal responsibility is raised from 8 to 12 and marital status no longer constitutes grounds for treating the child as an adult. Children’s right to legal counsel and other assistance and to access justice before an objective and impartial court and in closed proceedings is recognized, as is the right to humane treatment and freedom from torture and other inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment or punishment. Protection of privacy and confidentiality of the child’s identity in public media is guaranteed.

Recognizing the harmful effects of deprivation of liberty and the standards in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the arrest, detention or imprisonment can be used only as a last resort and for the shortest possible time. Only specialized personnel can handle cases of children involved with the justice system. Police, prosecutors and judges are required to prioritize diversion and restorative justice in cases of an offence punishable with a sentence of imprisonment of up to a maximum of seven years and when the child is not a recidivist. The legislation provides a variety of sentencing options, including admonishment, non-institutional and institutional treatment, social services, supervision and vocational training.

Child labour

In South Africa, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (1997) prohibits employment of children under 15 years; In section 43. (1) No person may employ a child— (a) who is under 15 years of age; or (b) who is under the minimum school-leaving age in terms of any law, if this is 15 or older.9 (2) No person may employ a child in employment— (a) that is inappropriate for a person of that age; (b) that places at risk the child’s well-being, education, physical or mental health, or spiritual, moral or social development. (3) A person who employs a child in contravention of subsection (1) or (2) commits an offence.

In the case of employment of children of 15 years or older, section 44. (1) (Subject to section 43(2)), states that “the Minister may, on the advice of the Commission, make regulations to prohibit or place conditions on the employment of children who are at least 15 years of age and no longer subject to compulsory schooling in terms of any law”. Furthermore, (2) “A person who employs a child in contravention of subsection (1) commits an offence”.

See also the regulations on hazardous work by children in South Africa.

Corporal Punishment 

In Austria, Article 5 of the Federal Constitutional Act on the Rights of Children 2011explicitly states that every child has the right to a non-violent upbringing, prohibiting corporal punishment, the infliction of mental suffering, sexual abuse and other abuses.

In Brazil, the Code on Children and Adolescents 1990 was amended in 2014 to prohibit all corporal punishment of children. Law No. 7,672/2010 inserts a new article 18-A into the Code which states (unofficial translation): “Children and adolescents are entitled to be educated and cared for without the use of physical punishment or cruel or degrading treatment as forms of correction, discipline, education or any other pretext, by their parents, by the members of their extended family, by persons responsible for them, by public officials implementing social and educational measures or by any other person entrusted with taking care of them or treating, educating or protecting them….” Amendments to the Code provide for a range of measures to ensure implementation of the prohibition, including referral to a family protection programme, warning and referral for guidance courses, without prejudice to any other legal measures that may be taken, and for the promotion of permanent educational campaigns, ongoing professional education and training and a range of other actions to support non-violent parenting, education and conflict resolution (art. 18-B). The Law came into force on the date of publication, 27 June 2014.

In Mongolia, the Law on the Rights of the Child 2016 explicitly confirms children’s right to be protected from violence, including corporal punishment (art. 7.1, unofficial translation): “Children have the right to be protected from crime, offences or any forms of violence, physical punishment, psychological abuse, neglect and exploitation in all social settings.”

The Law on Child Protection 2016 explicitly prohibits the use of corporal punishment and humiliating forms of punishment by parents and other adults (art. 2.6) and obliges parents and others caring for youth to use non-violent forms of discipline.

The Law on Child Protection 2016 article 2(6) explicitly prohibits “all types physical and humiliating punishment against children by parents, guardians and third parties who are responsible for care, treatment, guidance and education of children and adolescents” in the course of raising children and disciplining bad behavior; Child Protection Law (in Mongolian). Moreover, in the education and upbringing of and caring for children in article 5(4), “parents, legal guardians, relatives, and teachers shall follow non-violent disciplinary methods.”

The new legislation was passed in February 2016. The Law on the Rights of Children 2016 and the Law on Child Protection 2016 entered into force on 1 September 2016.

In Peru, the Law prohibiting the use of physical and other humiliating punishment against children and adolescents of 2015 introduced a new Article 3A in the Code of Children and adolescents: “Children and adolescents, without exception, are entitled to good treatment, which means to receive care, affection, protection, socialization and nonviolent education in a harmonious, supportive and nurturing environment in which comprehensive protection will be provided, either by their parents, tutors, or legal representatives, as well as their teachers, administrative, public or private authorities or anyone else.” The right to good treatment is reciprocal among children and adolescents.

Article 1 of the same law explicitly guarantees children the right to proper treatment, care and protection, prohibiting corporal punishment in all settings. Article 2 defines physical punishment as “the use of force, in the exercise of powers of upbringing or educating [children or adolescents], intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort in order to correct, control or change the behaviour of the children and adolescents”. Humiliating punishment is defined as “any offensive, denigrating, devaluing, stigmatizing or mocking, in the exercise of the powers of upbringing or education, in order to correct, control or change the behaviour of children and adolescents” is also prohibited. The Law explicitly repeals article 74(d) of the Code on Children and Adolescents and article 423(3) of the Civil Code, both of which authorised parents and others to “moderately correct” children. The law was approved by Congress on 10 December 2015 and was promulgated in the Official Gazette on 30 December 2015.

In Slovenia, following the adoption by the National Assembly in October 2016, the new Family Violence Prevention Act (Law No. 542-08/16-9/2.6) entered into force on 19 November 2016. The legislation stipulates that corporal punishment of children is prohibited in all settings, including in the home, in alternative care settings and in day care centres. The law also requires funds to be allocated from the national budget for training in the field of violence, particularly violence against children, and to finance positive parenting programmes. See here for further details.

In Sweden, the Children and Parents Code was amended in 1979 to include a ban on physical punishment and humiliating treatment of children. Chapter 6, section 1 of the code highlights that “Children are entitled to care, security and a good upbringing. Children are to be treated with respect for their person and individuality and may not be subjected to corporal punishment or any other humiliating treatment.” Sweden was the first country to introduce a specific ban on corporal punishment of children.


Sexual abuse and exploitation through Information and Communication Technologies: ensuring accountability of private sector actors


In Philippines, the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, section 2 (b) seeks to “Protect every child from all forms of exploitation and abuse including, but not limited to: (1) the use of a child in pornographic performances and materials; and (2) the inducement or coercion of a child to engage or be involved in pornography through whatever means. The law defines and prohibits grooming of children for sexual purposes and requires private sector actors, such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs), private business establishments and Internet content hosts, to assist in the fight against child pornography. ISPs have the obligation to notify the Philippine National Police or the National Bureau of Investigation within seven days upon discovery that their servers or facilities are being used to commit child pornography offences. They are also obliged to preserve evidence for use in criminal proceedings. Upon request by law enforcement authorities, they must give details of users who access or attempt to access websites containing child pornography. ISPs must also install programmes or software designed to filter and block child pornography. Additionally, owners and operators and owners or lessors of other business establishments have the responsibility to report child pornography offences within seven days of discovering that their premises are being used to commit such offences. Importantly, the Act also requires appropriate protections for child victims of pornography offences. This includes strict confidentiality in handling evidence, protecting witnesses and assisting in recovery and reintegration.


Malaysia’s Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017 provides enhanced legal protection for children from sexual abuse and exploitation. The legislation addresses a range of matters, including grooming, offences related to child sexual abuse material, and the presumption that a child is competent to give evidence in relevant proceedings.

You can access the legislation here.