The Flemish socialist party sp.a has introduced a bill to legally ban the corporal punishment of children - including a slap on the backside or a pat on the cheek- to prohibit systematic violence by parents.
This type of violence against children, which includes any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, is banned in all European Union member states except in three countries, including Belgium.
"It is not explicitly mentioned in our civil code. As a result, some parents think it is still okay to use systematic violence against children," Member of the Federal Parliament Karin Jiroflée told De Morgen.
This behaviour is already prohibited by law in 59 countries around the world, but in the EU, Italy, the Czech Republic and Belgium have not yet specifically forbidden it by law.
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"It is embarrassing that we are one of the last EU countries not to have succeeded in doing so. This is the only way we can make it clear that domestic violence against children in the context of 'parenting' is not acceptable,’ said Jiroflée.
She had previously submitted a similar bill in 2005, and over ten years later, Member of the Parliament Sonja Becq proposed one as well.
"Until now, we always got the same reaction: this is not a priority, or it is symbol politics," said Jiroflée, who emphasised that she believes her government peers will back the proposal, especially as domestic violence and child abuse have been on the rise since the coronavirus crisis.
The Brussels Times