THANKS to the recent legislation passed in Lagos State by the administration of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN, the caning, beating or physical torture of school students, and of workplace apprentices, has been outlawed entirely, and declared both illegal and criminally culpable throughout that state. This recognition accorded the basic human rights of Lagos State’s children, by Governor Fashola, is, without question, one of the most constructive, progressive and profoundly humanitarian initiatives ever set forth into law by any Nigerian elected leader, since the nation’s 1960 independence.
A simple internet search yields an abundance of thoroughly documented medical evidence, which unambiguously links the “punitive” beating of human beings to very severe and permanently debilitating injuries that range from blindness-inducing eye damage, to life-long paralysis of the legs, possible from SINGLE blunt-force cane impacts to the sciatic nerve, which runs close to the spine in the lower back, just beneath the skin. A research paper recently published by the Department of Ophthalmology, at the College of Health Sciences in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, cited a four-year study which concluded that an astonishing 30.3% of all eye injuries, presented at that hospital alone, by children aged between 5 and 15 years old, were DIRECTLY attributed to caning or whipping attacks that went horribly wrong, either in schools or at home.
From a purely medical standpoint, there is NO safe area of the human body suitable for assault with a stick or other blunt-force weapon. Just as easily as a cane-strike to the lower back carries the potential to inflict lifetime lower limb paralysis on the victim, an errant stick, whip or belt-buckle impact to the wrist is equally liable to fracture, deform or displace the delicate wrist carpal bones that articulate within very tight tolerances, thus degrading forever the wrist’s flexibility and range of motion. Caning the hands of a student, such that permanent bone injury and loss of flexibility to the hands results, would effectively END whatever aspirations the victim may have held of becoming a surgeon later in life. The disastrous effects of losing one’s sight or mobility to a caning incident would be no less life-destroying, and require no elaboration.