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Key findings
  • Almost three-fourths (72%) of adult Zimbabweans say that it is “sometimes” or “always” justified for parents to physically discipline their children. Only 28% say it is “never justified.”
  • Opposition to corporal punishment of children is somewhat stronger among poor respondents than among their better-off counterparts.
  • Eight of 10 Zimbabweans (80%) say it is “never justified” for men to beat their wives.

Corporal punishment of children has been a topic of contentious public debate in Zimbabwe since High Court Judge Justice David Mangota’s ruling in March 2017 that the use of physical force to discipline children in school or at home is unconstitutional (Laiton, 2017).

While the case concerning a Harare schoolboy is to be sent to the Constitutional Court for confirmation, debate has raged as to whether corporal punishment is an effective way of disciplining a child and which alternative methods, in the absence of the cane, might be employed by parents and teachers (Charamba, 2017).

Recent Afrobarometer survey data from Zimbabwe show that a strong majority of citizens regard physical discipline by parents as “sometimes” or “always” justified. While the court ruling addressed corporal punishment of children both at home and at school, the survey did not ask about physical discipline by teachers.

In contrast, Zimbabweans overwhelmingly reject wife-beating as “never justified.”

Stephen Ndoma

Stephen is the assistant project manager for Southern Africa