Corporal punishment and the National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence

Check out our letter to Minister Monsef on why corporal punishment should be considered in the drafting of the National Action Plan on Gender-based Violence.

May 25, 2021

Dear Minister Monsef,

As advocates for children’s rights, we look forward to the implementation of a comprehensive National Action Plan on Gender-based Violence. As a core foundation, we ask for the inclusion of legal reform to prohibit all forms of violence against girls, including corporal punishment. Ending all forms of violence against girls requires repealing section 43 of the Criminal Code, which allows parents to use corporal punishment – the most common form of violence against girls in Canada.

While both girls and boys are harmed by corporal punishment, its use and outcomes are often gendered. It provides a means to control girls’ social and sexual behaviour; instil deference, submission and timidity; and reinforce traditional ideals about femininity and girlhood. A growing body of international and Canadian research shows that children who experience corporal punishment are at greater risk of experiencing domestic violence as adults, as victims or perpetrators. Corporal punishment of children and violence against women often co-occur in families, and are often perpetrated by the same person.

The recent report by the Laurent Commission on child protection in Quebec recognized the importance of prohibiting corporal punishment for preventing violence against children.  It recommends that Quebec adopt its own legislation to prohibit corporal punishment.  That would mean some children in Canada will have less legal protection from violence than other children in Canada.  It would be more equitable, as well as consistent with Canada’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, for Canada to protect all children in Canada from all forms of violence, including corporal punishment.

Prohibiting corporal punishment is essential to preventing violence against girls and women.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child has consistently called on Canada to prohibit all corporal punishment of children. Therefore we ask your government to take the necessary steps to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code as part of an effective National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence.

We would be happy to provide further information at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children

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