THE French National Assembly voted Friday in favor of largely symbolic ban on parents smacking their children, a practice which though condemned by the UN still enjoys widespread support in the country.

The bill on ''corporal punishment or humiliation'' seeks to ensure that parental authority is exercised  ''without violence'' of any sort, including ''physical, verbal or psychological'' violence.

MPs voted through 51-1 early Friday morning, after a late-night debate, and will now pass to the Senate.

Attempts by previous governments  to ban the practice have run afoul of conservatives.

A 2016 bill condemning the smacking of children was later struck down by the Constitutional Council, because it was adopted in the form of an amendment to an unrelated piece of legislation.

According to the non-governmental Childhood Foundation, 85 percent of the French parents resort to corporal punishment, to the dismay of many European neighbors, including Sweden and Germany.

Schools have been banned from physically punishing children, but not parents.

''Crucially, the bill would not sanction parents who continue to ''discipline'' their children as its main goal is ''educational' - a way to encourage society to mend its views, according to Maud Petit, the MP who sponsored the measure.

But it will slap down a 19th century addendum to the Civil Code's definition of parental authority, which is read out to couples taking their wedding vows and which especially allows for ''disciplining'' children.

It will also bring France into line with international legislation. In March 2015, Human Rights Organisation the  Council of Europe singled out France on failing to ban smacking, unlike most other European countries.

A year later, the UN committee on the Rights of the Child took up the issue, calling on France to  ''explicitly prohibit'' all forms of corporal punishment of children. [Agencies]


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