Corporal punishment involves inflicting physical pain on the person as a penalty for the deed. In ancient times, corporal punishments had been the main source of penalty for conducting a crime. For instance, during the reigns of kings, it was very common to brand a person with a hot stamp on the skin, specifying the nature of the crime. Or during the slavery times, it wasn’t very uncommon for the labourers to bear the seal of slavery.
Corporal punishment is given to minors in school or home settings. For example, spanking a child on committing the wrong deed; making the child stand in sunlight for not bringing the homework etc.
HISTORY OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT
In history, there is also evidence of mutilation of criminal on committing some petty crimes. This goes on to show that corporal punishment used in ancient history was harsh. For another instance, there is a story that Shah Jahan got the hands of all the workers of Taj Mahal cut off so that they can’t replicate the exact architecture. There are various other instances in history that indicate that corporal punishment was used by the reigning party on the subordinates as a penalty.
Some of the ancient forms of corporal punishment include blinding, branding, mutilation, amputation and the use of stocks and pillory. In some of the cases, there were violent modes of execution used for punishment like stoning (example, the story of Anarkali), burning, drowning, hanging (tied to a rope as a death sentence), drawing and quartering (a practice which involved offenders being strangled, disembowelled and dismembered while being alive).
Back in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the use of harsh corporal punishment (except hanging) was eliminated in Europe and the United States. Imprisonment took the place of corporal punishment. By the 20th century, corporal punishment was completely removed and restricted to whipping or caning.
21ST CENTURY AND CORPORAL PUNISHMENT
After the application of Human Rights Law, the legality of corporal punishment was challenged.
- Family or domestic corporal punishment- Parents or adult guardians inflict punishment or children or teenagers. This is legal but has been banned in 2017 in 52 countries including Latin American and Europe.
- School corporal punishment- The school administrators or teachers inflict punishment on the students. This is banned in various countries like Canada, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa etc. and has become increasingly uncommon.
- Judicial corporal punishment- The law issues this as a criminal sentence. In countries like Asia Anglophone Caribbean, Africa and other countries, it still remains legal. In few countries, corporal punishment is allowed in the military.
CORPORAL PUNISHMENT AND CRIME RATES
Whenever something unlawful like rape occurs, the public demand execution. Despite rape being punishable by death according to Thai justice, it is not always executed. The frequency of death penalties is the most in Singapore. Singapore is known for having the lowest rate of crimes in the world and the rate keeps dropping per annum. The fearlessness of Singapore is carrying out harsh corporal punishments to lower crime rates poses a question on the legality of corporal punishment in the world.
However the same does not hold true for other countries. For instance, in 2006, Canadian government authorised imprisonment for gun crimes to reduce crime to no avail. Despite death penalty, there is no reduction in drug crimes in Thailand. According to data, more than punishments, the possibility of being caught red-handed for punishment make the difference. There are high-end integrity and efficiency in the criminal justice system of Singapore.
When it comes to corporal punishment in schools, 22 states of United States still legalise it. A school of thought believes that paddling can lead to the child becoming violent, humiliated, anxious, angry, aggressive etc. Owing to the rising controversies regarding the practice, such corporal punishments are being banned altogether in various countries.
International Parenting Study overtook 11,000 university students from 15 varied countries to understand the link between spanking and increase in a number of crimes. According to the data, if the child had gone through child abuse, there were more chances of him/her developing criminal tendencies like stealing money from family or from outside, attacking tendencies, physical assault inflicted on partner etc. Researchers realised that spanking is only causing harm to the child’s psyche and nothing else. Even though parents might believe that such corporal punishments would guide the child, they make the child become aggressive. The results indicated that the college students who were spanked as kids were more likely to break laws.
The use of corporal punishment has been reduced to a great extent. The countries observing corporal punishments are mostly Islamic countries where whipping and amputation are legal. There is a school of thought that believes that reviving corporal punishment can lead to a decline in crime rates. However, various studies and evidence establish that using corporal punishments (like spanking a child) can give rise to criminal minds.
Whether or not corporal punishments can diminish crime, one thing is for sure- corporal punishments are inhuman and ethically incorrect.