Corporal Punishment Of Children: Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Index - Egypt

Egypt should reform its laws to remove exemptions from punishment for the violent discipline of children, and should explicitly ban all corporal punishment.

Egyptian laws, including the Education Law and implementing regulations, do not explicitly prohibit violent discipline of children at school.[1] Egypt stated to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that the Child Law, as revised in 2008, protects children from all forms of violence. [2] The Education Ministry informed Human Rights Watch that under the revised law, a teacher who beats a child without causing "permanent damage" could face a prison sentence of 24 hours up to 3 years.[3] However, although the draft law had explicitly addressed corporal punishment, this text was removed from the final Child Law.[4] The Child Law states that children have the right to protection from "all forms of violence, injury and physical or mental abuse," but it exempts punishment that is "subject to the duties and rights of caregivers and their right to discipline permitted by (Islamic) Sharia" from the prohibition on the "intentional infliction of the child on any harmful physical harm or harmful or unlawful practice."[5] The penal code does not prohibit corporal punishment of children.[6] Egypt has not adopted comprehensive legislation against domestic violence.[7] Egypt supported recommendations made during Egypt’s 2019 Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council to outlaw corporal punishment in all settings.[8]

Education Ministry policies prohibit corporal punishment at public and private schools. The ministry provided Human Rights Watch with extensive information, including a ministerial decree from 1998 that prohibits "harming the student physically with beating in any way" subject to unspecified "disciplinary measures."[9] A 2014 decree "absolutely prohibit[s]" physical punishment or verbal abuse of students subject to penalties under the "Rules Organizing the Disciplinary Responsibility of Civil Servants."[10] A 2016 decree states that corporal punishment is not an approved disciplinary measure that school staff may take to deal with student "infractions" such as tardiness, not wearing a uniform, and alarmingly, "harming national unity or incitement against the nation."[11] The ministry reportedly reiterated the ban on corporal punishment in a November 2019 statement to school staff.[12] A 2020 ministerial statement vaguely instructs private schools to implement its provisions without "harming students psychologically or morally," and not to "oppose students whether by acts or words."[13] The ministry informed Human Rights Watch that it is working on a teacher Code of Conduct.

The Education Ministry informed Human Rights Watch that the educational system has 20 million students, but they received just 57 complaints of abuse by school staff against students in 2016/17, and 22 cases in 2018/19. The ministry reported a single court verdict "against an abusive teacher in a school violence case" who was sentenced to 6 years in prison under the revised Child Law, without specifying the date of the verdict or of the incident.[14] Other data suggest that these figures may indicate a lack of accountability for abusive teachers. In 2011, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that corporal punishment "remains common practice in educational institutions" despite its prohibition.[15] A 2013 survey found that 43 to 51 percent of children experienced violence at school.[16] Between January 2014 and the end of October 2015, 50 percent of all cases of violence against children were registered in schools, according to news reports.[17] In an official 2018 survey, 65 percent of students said they had been hit with a stick, belt, wooden cane, or whip at school.[18] News media have reported cases where Egyptian children were permanently injured or killed by teachers who beat them.[19] A 2019 UNICEF report, based on 2014 data, found that more than 90 percent of Egyptian children ages 2-14 experienced violent discipline from caregivers or parents once per month.[20]

[1] Law No. 139 of 1981 promulgating the Education Law (accessed Nov. 1, 2019)

[2] Committee on the Rights of the Child, "Concluding Observations: Egypt," July 15, 2011, para. 57,

[3] Law no. 126 of 2008, Article 1, amending Article 116 of Children’s Law no. 12.

[4] Rania al-Malky, "Egypt 2008: Another Lost Child," Daily News Egypt, December 26, 2008, (accessed July 10, 2019).

[5] The Child Law, Art. 3 (a) provides for "The right of the child to ... protection from all forms of violence, injury, physical or mental abuse...." But The exemption is in Article 7A bis.

[6] Law No. 58 01 of 1937 Promulgating the Penal Code, see Book III, article 242, available at

[7] See Abdel Fattah Faraj, "أرقام رسمية صادمة عن العنف ضد المرأة في مصر," Asharq Alawsat; Committee on the Rights of the Child, "Concluding Observations: Egypt," July 15, 2011, para. 57,

[8] Egypt, at the UPR cited "Law No. 152 of 2001 abolished the punishment of whipping, being the last corporal punishment that existed hitherto," which relates to corporal punishment as a criminal sentence for prisoners, not to violent discipline in schools. Egypt "agreed" or "partially agreed" with the UPR recommendations of Uruguay and Zambia, 31.359 and 31.360, available at and

[9] Ministerial Decree No. 519, issued on November 17, 1998, articles 1, 4, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[10] Ministerial Decree no. 264, issued May 20, 2014, Annex, articles 5, 10, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[11] Ministerial Decree no. 287, issued on September 19, 2016, second Annex, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[12] Mahmud Taha Hossein, "التعليم" تحذر: العقاب البدنى واللفظى للطلاب فى المدارس ممنوع, November 17, 2019,,

[13] Education Ministry Periodic Statement no. 6, published on October 28, 2020, article 4.

[14] Ministry of Education and Technical Education, letter of DATEDecember 24, 20201.

[15] Committee on the Rights of the Child, "Concluding Observations: Egypt," July 15, 2011, para. 57,

[16] UNICEF and the governmental Egyptian National Council for Childhood and Motherhood surveyed 2,379 households and 100 schools in Cairo, Alexandria and Assiut, focused on children ages 13 to 17. UNICEF, Violence Against Children in Egypt: Quantitative Survey and Qualitative Study from Cairo, Alexandria, and Assiut, January 2015, pp. 8, 10, (accessed July 19, 2019).

[17] AFP, "Egypt schoolboy dies after teacher beating: ministry," March 8, 2015, (accessed July 10, 2019).

[18] National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, "Ending Violence Against Children in Egypt: National Strategic Framework," February 2018, p. 9, (accessed July 20, 2019).

[19] Egypt Today, "Teacher tried for causing ‘permanent disability’ to student," August 2, 2018, (accessed July 10, 2019). Egypt Today, "Teacher uses corporal punishment with students," August 8, 2017,

[20] UNICEF, Violent Discipline in the Middle East and North African Region, 2019, based on data analysis conducted in 2017, pp. 35, 37.