A UN committee wants Portugal to ban under-18s from getting married or going to bullfights.
It is also trying to get spanking – and any other ‘corporal punishment’ – outlawed, as well as stem the tide of very small children ‘taken into care’
At a time when spanking has just been banned in Scotland, the UN committee for Children’s Rights has come up with a whole bucket-list of wishes.
Driving concerns is the practice of removing children from ‘poor families’ and putting them into care where they can languish for years in institutions.
Say reports, the committee believes poverty “should never be a motive for removing children from their family”.
Thus focus on Portugal’s application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child “defends that Portugal should adopt a strategy of general de-institutionalisation, guaranteeing the existence of foster homes throughout the country and taking all necessary measures to avoid removing children from their families”.
If despite offering adequate support to vulnerable families, children are still ‘removed’, any over the age of six should be placed with a foster family “and never in an institution”.
Regarding the whole issue of poverty, the committee that it is concerned by “persistent salary inequalities” and the risks facing children living in ‘non-conventional housing’ (principally gypsies and those of African descent).
In this regard, investigators want Portugal to “evaluate the impact on children of policies of austerity applied during the years of the centre-right government of Passos Coelho (2011-2014).
It’s at this point that reports highlight the committee’s lurch from poverty to teenage marriage and bullfights.
There’s no instant explanation for the change of tack, just that the committee “insists” that the country “withdraw all exceptions that allow marriage before the age of 18” and “recommends” that the age for admission to a bullfight should be 18.
Other hopes are for an increase in the number of shelters for child victims of domestic violence, abuse and/ or neglect, and “complete prohibition of corporal punishment” of any type.
Another strident concern is that Portugal still has no ‘national strategy for children’ and appears to be dragging its heels (“unnecessary delays”) in getting one approved.
Says the committee, the lack of this strategy actually jeopardises the whole process of monitoring Portugal’s application of the European convention.