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French MPs vote to ban smacking children

media France's Assemblée Nationale (lower house) REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The French National Assembly has voted in favour of a largely symbolic ban on parents smacking their children. While the practice is condemned by the UN it still enjoys widespread support here in France.

The bill on "corporal punishment or humiliation" aims to ensure that parental authority is exercised "without violence" of any sort, including "physical, verbal or psychological" violence.

MPs voted it through 51-1 early Friday morning, following a late-night debate. It will now pass to the Senate.

The draft law was proposed by an MP from the centrist Democratic Movement party, Maud Petit, but received the backing of French President Emmanuel Macron’s party, La République en Marche. It was given an additional boost by the health minister Agnès Buzyn and the Secretary of Equality, Marlène Schiappa.

Attempts by previous governments to ban the practice have been thwarted by conservatives. Eric Ciotti, an MP from the conservative Les Républicains, described it as “propaganda legislation” pushing “pseudo official morality”.

A 2016 bill condemning the smacking of children was later struck down by the Constitutional Council, which vets legislation, because it was adopted in the form of an amendment to an unrelated piece of legislation.

If the bill is adopted, France will become the 55th state to ban corporal punishment of children, a move started by Sweden in 1979.

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