Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Out of context

It's very odd when a judge excuses physical violence towards a child on the grounds that "cultural context" should be considered and many newcomers to Britain punish their children by hitting them.

There seems to be a growing trend for certain groups to insist that the law should adapt to their particular beliefs or practices, rather than the law being applied to everyone on the same basis.

There are demands for sharia law, or religious strictures about homosexuality, or FGM, or even honour killings, to be legally acceptable on the grounds of personal conscience or social tradition or whatever, as if people are entitled to modify the law to suit their own purposes.

High Court Judge Mrs Justice Pauffley (pictured), ruling on a case where a boy had been repeatedly hit by his Indian father, said allowance must be made for the family coming from another culture.

Many communities newly arrived in Britain slapped and hit their children for misbehaviour, and the "cultural context" should be considered, she said.

Needless to say, child protection experts were astonished by her remarks, saying that culture is irrelevant to child abuse and every child has the right to be safe and protected from violence.

Of course they're absolutely correct. If certain groups are allowed to be exempt from the laws the rest of us have to follow, solely on the grounds of their deeply-held beliefs, the law would soon lose all credibility and respect. It would become just something to be fiddled or finessed. And once again the lawyers would have a field day.

25 comments:

susie said...

I'm not a fan of hitting children...

Tangent? Do your judges really wear those wigs? I've been watching Broadchurch, and they wear them in that, too. They look hot and itchy.

Wondering,

Susie

Secret Agent Woman said...

I am absolutely opposed to hitting kids. The APA has a policy against it. Again, I can't help but look at the research which shows clearly that children who are hit are more aggressive. And there is even some evidence that physical punishment causes cognitive deficits. And I just think it's wrong to hurt people weaker then yourself. You tach kids that you can get your way through physical force. What kid of a crazy message is that? Finally, it's against my spiritual beliefs to use aggression in child rearing. People in my area often swear you NEED to physically discipline kids to get compliance or good behavior. My own kids have never been hit, not once, and they were both extremely well behaved in school.

Bijoux said...

Agent said everything I wanted to say on the topic. Violence begats violence.

As far as the whole PC movement......NO. You live in a country, you follow its laws, not your own.

Nick said...

Susie: As Agent says, you can bring up your children to be decent and well-behaved without the need to hit them.

Yes, they do still wear those ridiculous wigs! There have been numerous attempts to get rid of them but in the end tradition always wins out. Pathetic.

Agent: You put all the arguments against hitting kids perfectly. There's no need for it and it gives all the wrong messages about how to treat other people. Your own kids just prove the validity of what you're saying.

Nick said...

Bijoux: Absolutely, violence breeds violence. And yes, if you choose to live in a different country, you should abide by their laws and not expect to bring another country's laws in your suitcase.

Dave Martin said...

This is England and I expect the law to apply equally to EVERYONE, regardless of race, religion or whatever. Don't like it? Tough.
I find it hard to imagine France or Australia making special exceptions to anyone on such grounds.
As for the law losing credibility and respect - that's long gone I'm sorry to say.

Nick said...

Dave: Exactly, the law should apply equally to everyone. Why should certain groups be allowed to opt out, simply because "that's the way we do things"? That's absurd.

You might be right about the law having lost most of its credibility and respect already. So many decisions are hotly disputed by one party or another declaring that justice hasn't been done.

Cheerful Monk said...

My feeling is if the family has recently arrived, then they should be warned and put on probation to give them a chance to learn. Then if they don't like the laws, they should move elsewhere.

I wonder what the judge would have said about honor killings.

Nick said...

Jean: Good point about giving them a warning. I imagine they would have had a warning before the drastic step of taking them to court, but I don't know. Indeed, honour killings are another good example of trying to circumvent existing laws. I shall add it to my list.

kylie said...

I was raised with physical discipline, not a lot of it but enough that it was my default with my own kids and it is incredibly difficult to change, no matter how much you want to.
I dont want to see kids hit or shamed or any of the other horrid methods that have been used but before we get all high and mighty about this case lets remember that it was the done thing in our own culture only a generation ago.
It takes time to institute change and parents need to be taught new methods.

There is not nearly enough information here to make any judgement on whether the judge was fair.

Wisewebwoman said...

I do wish there was a training session for new immigrants outlining how the laws differ between the new country and the old. Female genital mutilation or honour killing not allowed. Child beating a no-n0, etc.

I was raised in a house of violence and it does leave lasting scars.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

Kylie: A very fair-minded comment! I agree that it can be hard to change habitual behaviour, especially as you say if parents don't know of effective alternative approaches. Parents need role-models in the media or on TV of other ways to encourage good behaviour in their kids.

You're also right that we need more information about the court case. Unfortunately media reports of court cases are always severely abbreviated and a lot of essential details about how the decision was arrived at are omitted. So it's easy to launch into a big rant that eventually turns out to be misconceived.

Nick said...

www: Yes, some training of that kind that would be very useful. And also a reminder that British laws can't be changed to suit their private beliefs!

Childhood violence does indeed leave personal scars. I have a few of them myself, as you know.

Ms Scarlet said...

Somehow I don't think this young lady is going to get away with pleading cultural differences!!
We should all respect the laws of the country we are living in or visiting.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: Yes indeed, I don't think stripping at the top of a Malaysian mountain is going to be excused on the basis of "cultural context"! I do agree with that old saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do".

Grannymar said...

Hitting children in not the way to teach them. On living by the laws of the country - If this was Saudi Arabia, I would have to be covered from head to toe everytime I ventured outdoors. I would not be allowed to drive my car alone,I would have to ask a male driver to drive for me and worst of all I would not be able to meet strange men (bloggers)for coffee! In other words, when in Rome...

Nick said...

Grannymar: Very true, if we went to live in Saudi Arabia (especially women), our lives would be very restricted. And if we even tried to assert our own personal beliefs, we'd be jumped on pretty quickly. The simple answer to that is not to live in Saudi Arabia.

Secret Agent Woman said...

When I spent a month in Saudi Arabia, I wore a long-sleeved dress that went from neck to ankle and covered my hair. On Zanzibar, I also made sure my shoulders and head were covered. Ditto covering my hair and removing my shoes when I went into a mosque in Istanbul. You respect the laws and customs of other countries when you are there, whether or not you agree with them.

Nick said...

Agent: I agree, you should respect the laws of the other country, which after all were decided on by the people of that country. As a stranger, you have no right to tell the locals you want the law to look at things YOUR way.

And a visitor should make some attempt to find out how the local laws vary from those in their home country. Those tourists who thought it was okay to strip naked on a Malaysian mountain-top were astonishingly stupid.

Liz Hinds said...

Incredible thing for the judge to say. Yes, they may have come from a culture where hitting is acceptable but that isn't an excuse.

Nick said...

Liz: You might as well argue that you come from a culture where serial killing is the social norm.

Rummuser said...

This is the kind of judgment that we in India call minority mollycoddling and enough has been done to shame the judiciary to stop such nonsense in a Secular Democracy. If the matter comes before the Indian courts instead of the Sharia route that a Muslim can take, the Indian law prevails.

Nick said...

Ramana: "Minority mollycoddling" sums it up nicely. Glad to see Indian law prevails and there's no personal-beliefs nonsense.

Jay, Sparking Synapse said...

To me, it's simple: you follow the law of the land you are in. Ignorance of the law is no excuse for us native UK dwellers, so why should it be for newcomers? Isn't it incumbent on them to bone up on the law before they arrive, if they're keen to live here?

I can honestly say that if I ever chose to go and live in another country, I would feel there was absolutely no excuse not to live by their rules. If I didn't like the rules, I shouldn't go and live there.

Maybe there ought to be a mandatory induction course to the law and customs of any land for immigrants to attend? What do you think? If not, how do you - in all seriousness - learn about the laws and customs?

Nick said...

Jay: It just seems obvious to me that there has to be one universal law for a country, applying to everyone regardless, and that asking for some special exemption on the grounds of personal belief or whatever is not only invalid but childish.