Celebrating the Love of Friends in a Loving World

Celebrating the Love of Friends in a Loving World
Red Roses for You, My Sweet Friends ... Total Love.

My Sweet Friends

My sweet friends,

We grow closer to each other;

When we interact together and share ideas;

The common faith that we share,

Binds our hearts in one accord.

For sweet friendships last a life time,

When built on mutual respect, humility and understanding;

Throughout each different season,

We find we are one in life.

Sweet friends are there through times of grief;

And times when hope is gone;

Always there with encouragement;

So we can carry on.

I thank the Lord for you,

My true and faithful friends;

To fondly speak with you, whether we agree or not,

On this, our beloved blog;

For sweet friends will stay, no matter what;

Giving support.

Together, our hearts and minds truly unite;

With the amazing love of sweet friends.

In the spirit of true friendship,

Best wishes, my sweet friends;

May the Lord bless you abundantly.

I remain, yours truly,

B.B. Bakampa.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CREATING A TORTURE FREE WORLD


By Bakampa Brian Baryaguma
 [Dip. Law (First Class)–LDC; Cert. Oil & Gas–Mak; LLB (Hons)–Mak]

Abstract:

The essay is based on Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights prohibiting torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, which it discusses pragmatically. The author explores the possibility of eliminating torture in society and reduces the debate to corporal punishment tactfully showing that it falls under A. 5.

This essay notes that corporal punishment is akin to violence mostly affecting children (the author citing the experience of a little boy – Junior) and classifies it as a paradox. It addresses the effects of corporal punishment on both the individual and the society. Whereas they slightly differ, one is central to both––promoting fear.

To sow seeds of optimism is the object of this essay and this it does by stating that corporal punishment is not a mind-boggling problem. The author believes in the possibility of creating a torture free world saying that it begins with us (you and I) by consistently renouncing it.

In conclusion, it is argued that corporal punishment is indeed a form of torture that is cruel, inhuman and degrading and therefore unacceptable. The writer implores us to be resilient and ensure that we win the intellectual debate, stating authoritatively that all we have to fear is fear itself, believing that this is the key to creating a torture free world.


CREATING A TORTURE FREE WORLD
“If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” Robert H. Schuller

1.0  Introduction

“The paradox is the source of the thinker’s passion and the thinker without a paradox is like a lover without feeling: a paltry mediocrity. …The Supreme paradox of all thought is the attempt to discover something that thought cannot think.” Soren Kierkegaard

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, declares Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This means that nobody has any right to hurt or torture us. But what exactly do the terms torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading, treatment and punishment mean? Their ordinary meaning is as stated hereunder[1]:-
(i)                 torture––the infliction of severe bodily or mental suffering;
(ii)               cruel––causing pain or suffering, showing indifference to the sufferings of others;
(iii)             inhuman––unfeeling, cruel;
(iv)             degrading––reduce in rank or status, cause somebody to be less moral or less deserving of respect;
(v)               treatment––particular way of treating somebody or something, what is done to obtain a desired result;
(vi)             punishment––causing somebody suffering or discomfort for wrongdoing.
In absence of any hard and fast legal authority, I am convinced that corporal punishment amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, centrally to A. 5 of the UDHR. Corporal punishment has been defined as the deliberate infliction of physical pain as a behavioral changing method and takes various forms like hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, burning, painful body postures including use of excessive exercise drills and prevention of urine or stool elimination[2]. Corporal punishment is akin to violence and for this reason, this essay, in appropriate circumstances, uses the two terminologies interchangeably.

The use of corporal punishment as a favourable disciplinary method is probably as ancient as humanity. For instance, the hostility of the church in the olden days through imposition of grave punishments like burning on the stake and stoning; often times for flimsy wrongs like disagreeing with leaders (like the Pope) is common knowledge![3] In fact, slave trade and all its related activities, was corporal punishment itself. The humiliation and suffering inflicted on those helpless people was the pinnacle of it. Several factors accounted for the use of corporal punishment. Hence we find that in the Bible, a story is told of Joseph who was put in a dry well pending his sell to traders by his jealous elder brothers![4] This was corporal punishment meted out to him.

Corporal punishment is almost an everyday thing worldwide.  Upon close scrutiny, one finds that corporal punishment is mainly unleashed on vulnerable members of the society like children. In Uganda, until recently, the Penal Code Act[5] provided that convicts were also liable to suffer corporal punishment in some cases. I hold the view that spouse beating is a form of corporal punishment too. The vulnerability of these groups of people renders them powerless and helpless. But children constitute the majority of victims and as such therefore, this essay specifically concerns them.

In this era of human rights, corporal punishment is still rampant and its practitioners largely go off scot-free. This indeed is a paradox. So the million dollar question that naturally arises is, whether it is possible to eliminate it; in other words, whether it is possible to have a world free of corporal punishment. To this, I submit that this world is possible. A brief study of the problem and its effects would demonstrate this possibility. First, below I narrate my experience;

1.1 A Witness Account of Corporal Punishment

“The unfortunate part about being a victim is that we become irresponsible because we feel there is nothing we can do about our lives.” Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D.

I witnessed a little boy suffer corporal punishment, who for purposes of this essay, I shall refer to as, Junior. My friend Junior lived in our neighbourhood, when I was still a young girl. Here goes his story:
I saw his father beat him severely on several occasions, moreover on flimsy grounds. I particularly remember one night in 1999 when I heard him beat his son mercilessly, after Junior reportedly refused to run to school that morning, following his instructions to do so. It is said that he didn’t run because he was feeling pain from an injury he had sustained while playing football the previous day.

That fateful day, Junior’s father came back drunk late in the night and told his mother to wake him up, which she did. The mother led him to the sitting room where he met his father and who accused Junior of disrespecting him early that morning. He beat him so much with a flat iron cable that he eventually ran to the kitchen where he followed him and started kicking and boxing him. In fact, it is said that he strangled him too. Junior, while wailing, asked him for forgiveness but he refused. He called for help but nobody came to his rescue. His mother pleaded with him to forgive their son but all was in vain. He beat Junior until late in the night when he felt that he had quenched his anger. Junior hardly slept that night as his whole body was swollen, bruised and aching. In the morning, his mother boiled water and started nursing his wounds. She put him on treatment for four days during which time he missed school!
Beating was normal business at Junior’s home because almost every folly was remedied that way! But the beating that Junior received that day, I personally felt and still feel that it was abnormal. Later on, Junior told us that what hurt him most is that his father did not care to find out why he didn’t run as instructed. He said that he too had issues with his father but this did not matter to him. Like many other adults, Junior’s father erroneously believed that he was always right and his children, wrong.

The place where respect for and observance of Junior’s fundamental human rights should have begun was turned into an abattoir of the same. The role of the family in promoting human rights is best captured in the opinion of former U.S. First Lady Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt that, “Where, after all, do Universal Rights begin? In small places, close to home––so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world[6].” The point cannot be driven home any better.

1.2 Effects of Corporal Punishment

“We discovered that peace at any price is no peace at all. We discovered that life at any price has no value whatever; that life is nothing without the privileges, the prides, the rights, the joys which make it worth living, and also worth giving. And we also discovered that there is something more hideous, more atrocious than war or than death; and that is to live in fear.” Eve Curie, French author, speaking to the American Booksellers Association, New York, 9 April 1940 (Emphasis added).

In 1992, the Society for Adolescent Medicine[7] in the United States conducted a research on corporal punishment and concluded that it has “…major deleterious effects on the physical and mental health of those inflicted.” It was noted that “Punishment is based on aversive technology and produces very limited results.” The Society further stated that “This is consistent with research noting that punished children become more rebellious and are more likely to demonstrate vindictive behavior, seeking retribution against school officials and others in society. Such punishment can result in what is termed operant aggression (in which there is a direct or physical attack against the punishment source.”

I cannot agree more. I opine that the Society was entirely right. For example, personally I don’t think the numerous times Junior’s father beat him made him a better person in any way. If anything, beating makes someone a bad person because it arouses anger, hurt and disappointment in him/her, such that the victim becomes highly irritable. Junior said that this kind of punishment caused him to fear his father and that sometimes he felt that he resented him and even shunned his presence on many occasions.

But probably the long term psychological effect of beatings on children is that they hamper communication with their parents. They find it very difficult to hold constructive conversations with them, whereby they only communicated as of necessity. The short and long of it is that the torture that parents inflict on their children hinders their bonding with them, by blocking avenues of mutual relation and understanding for a long time.

Corporal punishment also adversely affects children’s relationship with the rest of society because as victims, children, who are sometimes beaten heavily for nothing, perceive beating as a form of injustice that ought to be resisted at all times. Therefore, almost by reflex, they always become hostile to anyone who threatens to beat them. This attitude affects their overall socio-academic performance especially, in schools where beating is an acceptable form of discipline, largely due to their negative perception of beating as a corrective method of discipline.

The biggest problem though is that corporal punishment cultivates a culture of violence in society. It portrays violent behaviour as normal and acceptable. It reinforces the idea that physical aggression is an effective tool of eliminating undesired tendencies. Usually adults who were physically punished as children are more supportive of it than those who were not. This mentality precipitates a vicious cycle of harassment of vulnerable members of the society like children.

1.3 A corporal punishment free world: is it possible?

“I object to violence because when it appears to be good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” Mahatma Gandhi

I am convinced that the problem of corporal punishment and torture in general is not mind-boggling.  There are better disciplinary techniques than corporal punishment. Non-violent methods like soft verbal reproofs, social isolation and rewards for good behaviour (such as praise and attention) can be used. We should aim becoming more responsible by nurturing an enabling environment of positive and more meaningful interaction between children and adults. I am talking about an environment that values and understands children’s feelings.

A corporal punishment free world is possible and it begins with us: you and I. The key to it lies in the consistent renunciation of corporal punishment. Personally, I have decided that I shouldn’t ever subject my children to this degrading treatment because having witnessed my childhood friend go through it, I know how humiliating it is. I am not promising to spoil them though; rather I shall adopt some of the non-violent methods named above. I don’t subscribe to the spare the rod and spoil the child philosophy.

I am fortified in my conviction by a  certain uncle of mine does not beat his children at all, yet they are very disciplined, studying well in school and generally speaking, smart. This is contrary to the myopic views of the apologists of corporal punishment, who allege that it is vital for controlling children by teaching them appropriate appreciation for authority, improved moral character and to better discipline themselves. It is agreed that parents bear the responsibility of disciplining their children[8]; but it matters how this role is fulfilled. It must be in a moderate and reasonable way, yet corporal punishment, by virtue of its violent character, I firmly assert, doesn’t meet this criteria.

1.4 Conclusion

“Let us teach our children that the God of comfort is also the God of righteousness: those who trouble their own house will inherit the wind. Justice will prevail.” William Jefferson Clinton

In summary, following the above discussion, it is clear that corporal punishment amounts to torture. It is a form of treatment and/or punishment that is cruel, inhuman and degrading. Such punishment should be banned totally and completely, both in homes and schools, as was done in Sweden. It has been weighed and found wanting as a disciplinary measure and for this reason therefore, it is unacceptable. Torture is an ineffective, dangerous and archaic method of discipline, operating against the tide of history. We should consistently renounce it and ensure that we win the intellectual debate. This is the key to creating a torture free world and in the words of former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “All we have to fear is fear itself.”


[1] A.S Hornby et al, OXFORD ADVANCED LEARNER’S DICTIONARY OF CURRENT ENGLISH.

[2] CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN SCHOOLS, A Position Paper of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, Journal of Adolescent Health: 1992; 13:240-246.

[3] See Tarcisio Agostoni MCCJ, MAY THE STATE KILL? Paulines Publications Africa, 2002, pp. 124-125

[4] Good News Bible, Genesis 37:12-36.

[5] Formerly Sec. 274A, which provision was fortunately declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the case of Kyamanywa Simon Vs Uganda and expunged from Ugandan laws.

[6] Cited in What are Human Rights? a publication of Youth for Human Rights International, p. 2.

[7] CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN SCHOOLS, A Position Paper of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, Journal of Adolescent Health: 1992; 13:240-246.

[8] See P.M Bromley, FAMILY LAW (8th Edition) Butterworths & Co. Publishers Ltd, 1992, p. 304.