Tunisia has amended its penal code to ban any spanking of children, government officials said Wednesday.
Following a vote by lawmakers, corporal punishment of minors by their parents will be considered a penal offence.
The amendment does away with a legal provision that stipulates that such punishment by those who have authority over a child cannot be prosecuted.
Opponents of the amendment argued that it undermines parents' authority and could lead to a loosening of traditionally close family ties.
But Justice and Human Rights Minister Lazhar Bououny said it was meant to avoid the consequences of violence against children and encourage "relations based on mutual respect, dialogue and understanding".
Parliament also set the legal age at 18, in line with the penal age and the right to vote.
Tunisia has repeatedly dismissed criticism of human rights violations in the country, arguing that it has signed the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and is also promoting women's rights.
© 2010 AFP