Corporal Punishment: Shame, Fear and Unreasoning

By Iniko Ujaama
April 24, 2014 –

lettersI watched the video of the Trinidadian parent who recently posted the video of herself beating her daughter over posting some ‘sexy’ pics on facebook and the subsequent video of her two daughters(an elder sister and the one beaten) explaining away and justifying the mother’s actions.

In my view the motivation was to embarrass the daughter for the embarrassment the mother herself felt on account of the ‘sexy’ pics posted on facebook and the fear that she may become sexually active and become pregnant. All of this is reinforced in the video with the daughters who also pointed to her mother being a single-parent which added to the shame since in our society it is considered a dysfunctional and deficient form of family. Add on top of that the fact that Africans and African families are generally viewed as dysfunctional. The mother was responding to all of this, none of which emanates from the daughter herself.

The mother may well have felt that she was working in her daughters best interest but this only shows that good intentions based on fear and uncritically accepted or unreasoned ideas can lead to misguided or even destructive actions. Some claim these forms of punishment (shaming and beating) as so called ‘West Indian’ or ‘African’ as compared to what are deemed softer forms of punishment that are considered characteristic of European. It is missed that this is based on knowledge of Africans and European from the period of enslavement and colonialism and that these types of punishment gradually became less common in European society during the very period that it was being used more firmly among Africans and others. Also it is not unusual for groups to change or abandon certain practices when they have reasoned something better.

Some claim that having been punished in that way has made them a ‘better’ person. Some of these same persons would have difficulty applying that same principle with any measure of consistency in other cases. The idea that force, fear and shame are truly effective means of making one a better or more moral person forms the basis for much of the violence that takes place in the home, in the wider society and between countries. It is seen as appropriate to use violence on others who are deemed more vulnerable, weaker or less advanced to put them right. It also encourages those who see themselves as such to accept such treatment. Bullying, domestic abuse and others follow the same logic for the perpetrator and often too by the victims. This tendency to attribute better character with violence, coercion etc is consistent with the idea that enslavement and the imposition of European religion and cultural norms is to account for whatever perceived good character or order in our societies. It is no surprise then that the Bible is used to justify corporal punishment or that ideas of good character, decency, morality etc are so inconsistent, distorted etc. The existence of verses such as the following in the Bible point to the deeper history of the spread of patriarchal values and culture:

The Book of Proverbs:
“He that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes.” – Proverbs 13:24
“Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell.” – Proverbs 23: 13-14

The dominant ideas about morality, sexuality, gender, family etc are greatly influenced by Christianity and European culture. European females were presented as the symbol of purity while African females were presented as the embodied of all that was dirty, dysfunctional and deviant sexually. This contributes to the pressure that often falls upon them to show them to be behaving appropriately in terms of European standards of decency and sexual morality. At the same time mainstream values tell them that their value derives from their body and its appeal to males. Being historically debased and that debasement being linked with the portrayal of them as overly sexual and deviant in their sexuality there is a greater burden on African females for being sexually active early, getting pregnant, having or having had multiple sex partners etc.

We are also encouraged to believe that a nuclear family headed by a male is the ideal family type something which has been subtly ingrained in children and adults through school, church and state through laws etc. Marriage attached the children and the female to a male and therefore made them legitimate. Females who had children “out of wedlock” were openly and legally discriminated against in the work place as well as through social stigma. The same was the case for children born in such a context. This was done openly by the church and elsewhere. In that kind of context with these values being unquestioned, females who themselves do not fulfill that ideal might tend to be harder on their children for fear of them being shamed as failures.

Much of the discussion centered around whether the mother was right or wrong for her action. Also concern was rightly raised about the harm which is done physically and emotionally (but also in terms the capacity to reason and discern) to the daughter. At the base of the fear and shame that motivated the mother to take action are the poor and distorted ideas of morality, sex, gender and race which continue to influence our society and the general absence of proper and informed discussion of these issues.

12 thoughts on “Corporal Punishment: Shame, Fear and Unreasoning”

  1. What one must look at is the motivation for the mother’s action. She being a single parent low income and working hard to make ends meet, dealing with three teenagers while her former husband dropped out of the picture. It is not an easy life because those children are high risk for going astray. Girls according to studies in the U.S. tend to become promiscuios or distant towards men. I have seen both factors where a life of promiscuity mastered during the teenage years continues secretly into the matrimonial bed. And I have seen girls who cannot get away from a domineering mother and live life as single person.

    The mother’s action cannot be judge on this singular act. I am sure there was a build up to this “finale”. Repeated warning, threats, and various punitive measures all to no avail. A child displaying her body for young boys to look at is inviting rape, advances and eventually sexual activities. At her age studies have shown that girls craving attention would eventually have multiple partners several children and live in poverty. The mothers action cannot be frowned upon because she is acting out of desperation, some licks now will save the child from years of poor decision making and hardship.


    This result sadly would be the same if conducted in Nigeria,Uganda, South Africa, Jamaica,Congo, Brazil , and of course T&T. It’s how the cookie crumbles, so we can lay that over worked slave theory mantra to rest.Poor Global Africans , simply enjoy beating the hell out of their kids, for that was what they were taught by their own patents , were the acceptable way.
    Often times ,the reality is more so ,a man /woman , kick dog, beat wife, and kids scenario, because I he strong executor , cannot push back against the more powerful forces , that are perceived to be holding me back,elsewhere.
    In this case , we have here, a desperate woman ,at the lower level ,of the socio economic totem pole, who I am almost certain ,cannot even type a paragraph, edit and print same ,on a working computer , so as to apply for a job to save her life, but instead , is pretending to be outraged ,over her kid, Facebook activities.
    A middle class African female , would not only have less kids, but likewise possess the tools to keep them socially functional , so that education , would be the priority at this stag of their lives, and not getting pregnant , as feared.
    I personally have absolutely , no tolerance ,for all the cyber , and mainstream media apologist attitudes , towards inhumane , wanton , barbarian savagery, as displayed quite vividly , in this case.
    T&T politicians, and civic leaders, on all side as of the so call divide, can do all there jig and dance rituals , for the gullible , since that’s what most clueless Trinis come to expect. However , they can count me out.
    The same folks, who would denounce law enforcement officers , for using violent ,draconian measures against poor communities , when performing their tough duties , will defend this violence.
    The same folks , who just last week , were denouncing government MPs ,for public acts of violence , which included berating one on an airline , is now quick to give a violent woman a free pass, under some guise of opaque culture.
    Has anyone concern about rising ,domestic violence , ever wondered , why numerous young girls, and adult women ,remain in abusive relationships, even to the point of their death, or why young men , evolve into grown men, that eventually resort to violence , when they cannot get compliance from the females I m b their lives? Here is the reason.The cycle will continue .
    All civilize societies , will do all in their powers,to curb violence , where possible.
    It starts with abolishing corporal punishment, and it’s twin sister ,capital punishment.
    First of all this woman, and the fellow idiots , who videotaped her verbal and physical abuse on her kid, should be charged for abuse, and her children taken away to some where ,they can receive proper attention.
    The kind of punishment , that should be levied on her, should depend , on the level of contrition , she publicly shows,as she has not only embarrassed, her daughter , but gender, race, and nation as a whole , by telling the world ,that T&T is nothing but a backward ,3rd world dump.
    There is more , I will say on this subject in time to come, but prefer to presently allow the typical , callous /uncaring , braying donkeys , with comments like ,”some licks now will save the child…,”idle talk, to bray on.63 lashes , with a belt laced with profanity, is a fine way to elevate a debased woman’s dignity Uncle Ujjama.
    In ending , let me remind fellow citizens ,of the following principles , our so called modern country subscribed to upon joining the UN:-‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel , inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’ Article 5 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    Hey Mamboo, that applies to not only low end African kids , but Indian kids , and women ,that are likewise , silently suffering daily all across the poor , mosquito infested plains of T&T. These type, don’t work in air condition offices, or drive expensive Audis /Benz, and better yet, do their shopping in Miami , Toronto,New York ,and London 3 times per year.
    Translation-This ain’t the time to gloat,since for all the silly ,superior culture mantra , you and others, will continue to regurgitate for our consumption, we the astute ,can , with the help of Mama Verna St Rose, unearth, even worst behaviors, within the tribe .
    There is work to be done T&T, and yes, I am outraged, at this inexcusable act.

    Luv humanity people!

  3. Malachi 2:16
    For the Lord, the God of Israel, says he hates divorce and cruel men. Therefore, control your passions—let there be no divorcing of your wives.
    Moses introduced divorce because of the hardness of the human heart. It was never in God’s plan for married people to divorce. The central plan of building a strong nation starts in the cultivation of strong families. Unfortunately, today the parting of the ways have seen children becoming the victims of selfish parents resulting in their world being shattered. Most family problems emerge from lack of proper parental presence.

  4. One would hope , that child support /new family not withstanding ,that when this media dust is settled , and hopefully , justice is served , or rather , this woman gets the psychological help she needs , the Policemen father , of this emotionally distraught kid , would step up to the plate , and do the right thing , in raising his obviously , neglected , and now abused daughter.
    What a lovely PR , big picture/big people gesture , that would be ,for the Police service, led by , Commissioner of Police Williams, as well as Madame Sampson -Brown, of Victims Support Unit.
    Let’s keep it real folks .Enough with the African sperm bank syndrome- that intellectual midgets, so called victimologists, and media frauds,too often blame on slavery, when in fact , millions of children , in continental Africa ,for hundreds of years , only survived , because of the resilience of ,not their carefree fathers,but women.
    I knew it was only a matter of tine, before the Neanderthal logic , as portrayed by our ‘Mayaro King trolling bozo , Mamboo,’was forced to the surface, even with serious , a subject as this.
    A long suffering,White – sky god , in whose name ,slavery, genocidal imperialism, neo tribal race wars , and a host of evil actions , were forced on planet earth , would prefer that couples should remain together, solely for the sake of their kids, even long after they realize their incompatibility. I think we get that.
    It’s sad , but true , that many parts of Africa, Asia,and the Middle East, where the Dowry system exist , or parents/ extended families , played an active role, in bringing the couples together, bigger culturally oriented, or economic factors, might dictate unhappy married couples actions, but this is T&T mi amigo.
    Here thankfully,we do not condone , bride burning, like they do in India. We do not shoot little girls like they do in Islamist fiefdoms such as Pakistan ,and Kandahar Afghanistan, all because they wish to go to school, and not have a husband, destroy their innocence , and virginity, before they are 13.
    We do not stone little girls as the failed State of Somalia do . We are fortunate ,not to be Congo , Uganda /Sudan,Nigeria,and China , for there we have child soldiers, they kidnap entire schools of young children, with evil intent, from Uganda , to Sudan , and now Nigeria .
    In Thailand ,and Yemen ,girls as young as 10 years , can be wedded, or sold into sexual slavery,and no one cares . In the case of so called emerging power China , millions are forced to work in sweatshops, long before puberty. In Brazil , they are still rounding up , and worst yet slaughtering poor street kids , in efforts to spruce up the country’s image for their world cup, and Olympics. Go figure!

    No Mamboo, in our T&T, a scorned ,very pissed off ,young woman ,can punch her powerful ,fake player / Sweetman in the mouth, and publicly humiliate him, after first demanding ,that he live up to his financial responsibility, to mind his neglected, illegitimate outside child .Thank you very much Sister Shasha Singh-and no we don’t give a hoot ,about your ulterior motives.
    It is law and order T&T, that via a much hated national Statesman , in ANR Robinson, the world at large got the ICC, where ruthless, genocidal maniacs, can know their fate .
    Here a young, Sandhurst Coup School trained soldier, can plot a coup,with pals , then live to tell the tail, en rout to becoming a high end civic leader, politician , and lofty editor. Thank you very much Papa Eric Williams for leading the way.
    Here in law abiding T&T, citizens would give the middle finger to an Islamist religious bandit , such as former horse police , nd footballer ,Lennox Phillip, aka , Yasin Abu Bakr, as he- with well known support from influential socio political miscreants- and fellow goons ,peed on our Democracy, as they proceeded to maim , murder , and help plunge our nation ,into further darkness, due to their 1990 savagery.
    We took it with a smile , especially in the historically neglected Island Ward of Tobago , where ANR was born ,when White , British, racist, old geezers , referring to themselves , as Law lords , decided to give him a pat on the back , and so to date our brave ,national hero, is heading to his grave , without seeing some semblance of justice , from an ungrateful nation. Thank you very much Basdeo Panday, and Patrick Manning for Nada .
    No Mamboo, we are trying to build a brand here in T&T. Peace , Justice , economic prosperity, and empowerment of the weak , is the goal . HONEST ,transparent leadership ,is the key for that symbolic vehicle , that would guide us along the part, of much coveted ,Sustainable Development.
    Unlike you , and many others , I have no interest in whether your PP, or the PNM ,wins the next 300 elections in the future.
    All I wish to see , for now , is that women , children , poor , disenfranchised, and neglected ,from the various competing Trini tribal enclaves , are in a much better position socially, come 2015, than they were in 2010,when Auntie Kamla took office.
    WE WILL NOT GIVE LIP SERVICE to children protection , and Women Rights , or worst yet , continue to condone an idiotic ,slash and burn political policy ,of using poor folks, as political footballs.
    Ok Neal , enough with the ethnographic studies , for it’s time to flesh out this long overdue ‘Human Security’ apparatus , mi amigo!
    Make it happen, and ain’t life beautiful? ‘Me think so. ‘
    I luv this land, Y tu?
    Long live the Republic of T&T!
    Stay tuned ,folks!

  5. Mother was using ‘reasonable chastisement’
    Seetahal on Facebook beating video:

    By Michelle Loubon
    April 25, 2014 –

    Senior counsel/Express columnist Dana Seetahal said the mother of the child who posted the video of her being beaten for posting “indecent” pictures of herself on social media “would have done it to teach her a lesson”.

    But, she said, while the mother was engaging in “reasonable chastisement” the real question was “how far do you go in terms of punishment”.

    Seetahal also said if the child was sexually active, whether or not she consented, it was an offence under the law.

    In a telephone interview, Seetahal said, “The real question is whether a parent beating a child is liable to be held for an offence. In this case, it appears the mother was engaging in “reasonable chastisement” under the law. A parent can punish a child but they must use “reasonable chastisement”. But it is how far you go in terms of chastising a child.”

    Seetahal added, “I don’t know the circumstances but under the law there is nothing to say that “reasonable correction” of a child by a parent is unlawful.

    “However, the chastisement must not cause actual bodily harm or worse. If it does it would not be reasonable. It cannot ignore the question of what is considered to be ‘unlawful violence’. But it can’t be more violent than ‘lawful chastisement’.”

    Seetahal said while she did not know all the facts, it was “a difficult situation for a parent”.

    She said, “We don’t know the circumstances. But if the child can be bold, then, in the same way, the mother would not deal with her in an ordinary way. Maybe it is possible…the way the girl behaved would have been the determinant. What would cause a child of that age to go online and post such things about herself? It is a serious issue.”

    Asked about the Sexual Offences Act in relation to a child, Seetahal said, “If the person is the same age, they can commit an offence. If the person is 16 or older that is an offence. Once the person is the age of criminal liability, it is an offence.

    “If the person is an adult, it would be something to pursue. It is irrelevant whether the child consented or not. If you are a big man over 18, what are you doing (having sex) with a child. That is jail regardless of the circumstances. It is simple. She is a child.”

  6. Corporal punishment and children
    By Dana Seetahal – April 25, 2014
    The video of a mother beating her 12-year-old daughter featured on Facebook has raised the spectre once again of the unresolved issue of the use of corporal punishment to discipline children who misbehave. Many persons have weighed in on the issue including the Prime Minister who has reportedly said she will examine the possibility of banning corporal punishment in the home in the same way it is now prohibited in schools. The question that naturally arises is whether this is in fact desirable and how far can and should such a prohibition, if put in place, go.

  7. When corporal punishment was banned in the schools no programs or systems were immediately put in place to replace that type of punishment. Were teachers trained to deal with deviant behavior in alternative ways? Was a system of qualified counselling introduced in all schools? Were programs for the learning disabled and slow learners established? Were qualified pschometricans or school psychologists made available to students at risk?

    If the PM is contemplating a ban on corporal punishment in the home, she should ensure that mechanisms and services are in place to replace licks and to assist parents who were victims themselves and are now victimizing their children.

  8. Deuteronomy 25:1-3 says do not cross 40 lashes if it is a big hard back male criminal. The mother went over 63.

  9. for a child 12 years old. Like Bible students know only “Spare the rod and you will spoil the child etc

  10. Could a MAN beat his 12 year old daughter like that? If it was the MAN who was BEATING his daughter and can’t stop would it have been ok? Those bias people are NOT answering this question. WHY? What would the ‘beat up mothers’ do if they SEE the FATHER is beating up this daughter the SAME way this mother ‘beat up’ her daughter? With WHAT AND FOR HOW LONG IN HER PRESENCE?

  11. Hey Trevor C.Joseph, you are wasting your time my brother.Black folks are an endangered species in T&T, and no one cares – especially, if they don’t.
    Let us likewise , start to cheer, when the next Indian chick, gets her head bash in ,by her secret lover in public.
    Let us not fail in our moral responsibilities, to jump for joy, when another Trini Indian child,has fallen prey ,to forced suicide, via Gramazone poison, given to him/her ,by a jilted papa , who could not deal with a horn.
    Just like V.S Naipaul, I too, have given up on this totally backward ,social cesspool call Trinidad, and you might be well advised to do the same.
    I wish them well.

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