Committee on the Rights of the Child says children need to be protected from ‘harmful effects’
A UN committee has urged Spain to ban children from attending bullfights or bullfighting schools, arguing that they need to be protected from the “harmful effects” of the practice.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child, a panel of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the UN convention on the rights of the child, said it was concerned by the impact bullfighting could have on under-18s as spectators at events and as pupils in bullfighting schools.
After questioning a delegation from the Spanish government last month on a series of child welfare issues, the committee suggested that steps be taken to curtail minors’ exposure to bullfighting.
“In order to prevent the harmful effects of bullfighting on children, the committee recommends that the state party prohibit the participation of children under 18 years of age as bullfighters and as spectators in bullfighting events,” it said in its concluding observations.
The committee told the delegation that it was anxious about the level of violence in Spain’s 55 bullfighting schools and asked whether the government had considered banning children from them and from attending bullfighting events.
The Spanish delegation told the experts that while bullfighting was regulated by the governments of Spain’s autonomous regions, children over the age of 14 could receive some practical lessons in bullfighting schools. It also said each bullfighting school and the autonomous government had their own rules governing bullfighting.
One member of the committee said bullfighting constituted a form of “extreme violence” from which children needed protection.
“It’s not just child bullfighters, it’s also those who go along as spectators,” Gehad Madi told the online Spanish newspaper eldiario.es. “As a committee, we’re very concerned about protecting children from exposure to that violence. We hope the Spanish government and the governments of Spain’s autonomous communities will ban children from taking part in bullfighting activities.”
The Spanish delegation told the committee it would consider the recommendations.
The regional government of Catalonia banned bullfighting almost eight years ago, but the ban was overturned in 2016 by Spain’s constitutional court, which said the practice was “one more expression of a cultural nature that forms part of the common cultural heritage”.