4 August 2017

Swaziland: Teachers Beat Boys On Naked Buttocks

Boys at a Swaziland school say they are forced to take down their trousers and underpants to allow teachers to beat them on the bare bottom. Corporal punishment was abolished in Swazi schools in 2015.

The pupils at Salesian High, a Catholic school, say they are beaten with a plank.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported on Wednesday (2 August 2017) that parents and children had reported the incidents.

The newspaper said, 'Some of the disgruntled pupils alleged their teachers caned them on their buttocks using a plank and a piece of piping that is used to connect the big gas cylinders to stoves.'

One parent was reported saying, 'I saw my child while he was inside the bathroom and he was badly scarred. When I asked him what had happened, he told me that he had been whipped at school by one of the teachers. He further advised me not to go to the school as he feared being victimised or sent home.'

The Times said the boys were beaten for various offences including, arriving at school late or eating sweets.

Corporal punishment in schools was abolished after numerous cases of brutality were reported across the kingdom.

In 2011, Swaziland was told by the United Nations Human Rights Periodic Review held in Geneva it should stop using corporal punishment in schools, because it violated the rights of children.

But the practice of whippings and floggings was so ingrained in Swazi schools at the time that the top teachers' union official said he was surprised that inflicting corporal punishment was against a child's rights.

The United Nations Human Rights Periodic Review received a report jointly written by Save The Children and other groups that corporal punishment in Swazi schools was out of control. The report highlighted Mhlatane High School in northern Swaziland where it said pupils were 'tortured' in the name of punishment.

The report stated, 'Students at this school are also subjected to all forms of inhumane treatment in the name of punishment. The State has known about the torture of students that go on at Mhlatane High School for a long time, but has not done anything to address this violation of fundamental rights.'

Sibongile Mazibuko, President of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), was quoted in the Times of Swaziland saying as teachers they had been underestimating the impact corporal punishment had on children rights.

'It came as a surprise what impact corporal punishment has in terms of violating children's rights. In fact, we were not aware we are violating children's rights. The submissions by the countries and the criticism received by the country during the meeting was an eye-opener that corporal punishment should be abolished,' the Times quoted Mazibuko saying.

In a debate in the Swazi Parliament in March 2017 members of parliament called for the cane to be brought back into schools. The MPs said the positive discipline adopted in schools was causing problems for teachers because they no longer knew how to deal with wayward pupils.

The latest incident is not the first time Salesian High School has been in the news for beating boys on the bared buttocks. In August 2013 headteacher Petross Horton was reported by the Times of Swaziland saying on 'rare occasions' he had to force boys to lower their trousers so he could punish them on the flesh. He said he had to deal with cases of smoking and absconding of classes.

In a separate case, girls at Mpofu High School were flogged by teachers on their bare flesh and if they resisted they were chained down so the beating could continue. The girls reported they received up to 40 strokes at a time.

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