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

Government-controlled areas

Yemen’s laws do not prohibit corporal punishment of students at school, and permit violent discipline of children in the home: article 146 of the Children’s Rights Act of 2002 confirms "the legal and legislative rights of parents to discipline their children."

Since 1995 and in subsequent reviews through 2014, the UN expert committees that monitor implementation of the Conventions on the Rights of the Child, on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and on Civil and Political Rights, have repeatedly called on Yemen to explicitly and effectively prohibit corporal punishment of children by law in all settings, including in schools.[1]

The Education Ministry has explicitly banned corporal punishment. The minister of education’s decision No. 426 of 2012 strictly prohibits physical and psychological penalties for students in public and private schools and kindergartens, and provides that "anyone who is proven to have violated this decision shall be referred to investigation."[2] Ministerial Decree No. 648 of 1997, issuing the School Regulatory Charter, provides a list of permitted sanctions that teachers may use to improve students’ behavior, and article 68 states, "in general, physical penalties and means of insult and humiliation should not be used when admonishing a student."[3] Corporal punishment in schools is also prohibited under Ministerial Decision No. 10 of 2001, but this does not set out a complaints mechanism or any penalties.[4]

Recent reports on the prevalence of violent discipline at school are unavailable, but a 2008 report found that more than 90 percent of students reported being subjected to corporal punishment at school.[5] A 2013 survey found that around 90 percent of children aged 2-14 experienced physical punishment by caregivers in the month prior to the survey, with more than 85 percent being subject to severe physical punishment, such as "hit or slapped on the face, head or ears" or "beat up as hard as one could."[6]

Houthi and Southern Transitional Council Areas

Eighty percent of Yemenis live in territories where Houthi authorities exert control, including over schools.[7] The Houthi authorities did not reply to Human Rights Watch requests for information about laws or policies on violent discipline of children.

The Southern Transitional Council, which controls some territory in 6 of Yemen’s 22 governorates and capital, also did not reply to our requests.[8]

[1] E/C.12/YEM/CO/2, Concluding observations on second report, para. 22, June 1, 2011; CRC/C/15/Add.102, Concluding observations on second report, paras. 21 and 34, May 10, 1999; CRC/C/15/Add.267, Concluding observations on third report, paras. 41-43, 21 September 2005; CRC/C/YEM/CO/4, Concluding observations on fourth state party report, paras. 7-8, 43-44, January 31, 2014; CCPR/C/79/Add.51; A/50/40, paras. 242-265, Concluding observations on second report, paras. 256, 262, October 3, 1995; CCPR/CO/75/YEM, Concluding observations on third report, para. 16, July 26, 2002; CCPR/CO/84/YEM, Concluding observations on fourth report, para. 16, August 9, 2005; CCPR/C/YEM/CO/5, Concluding observations on fifth report, para. 20, April 23, 2012.

[2] Letter from Minister of Education and Pedagogy, Tareq Salem Saleh al-Akbary, to Human Rights Watch, January 6, 2021.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Violence Against Children in Schools: A Regional Analysis of Lebanon, Morocco and Yemen, Manara Network, August 2011, p. 27,; Fourth state party report of Yemen to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, CRC/C/YEM/4, October 23, 2012, para. 367; UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Yemen, 25 February 2014, CRC/C/YEM/CO/4,

[5] ; Violence Against Children in Schools: A Regional Analysis of Lebanon, Morocco and Yemen,

Manara Network, August 2011, p. 26.

[6] UNICEF, Violent Discipline of Children in the Middle East and North Africa Region, Figures 10 and 11, January 2019.

[7] UN, "United States' Designation of Houthi Militia as Foreign Terrorist Organization Risks Expediting Large-Scale Famine in Yemen, Speakers Warn Security Council," January 14, 2021,

[8] European Council on Foreign Relations, "War and Pieces: Political Divides in Southern Yemen," January 22, 2020,

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