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Portugal bans access of minors under 16 to bullfights

21 October 2021

@Peru Antitaurino

Portugal has taken a historic step in protecting minors from the violence of bullfighting: minors under 16 are no longer allowed to attend the bloody spectacles. With this ban, the southern European country follows the request of the United Nations to raise the minimum age for bullfighting.

Bullfighting violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the Portuguese government to protect minors from this animal abuse. Five years later, the UN requested that the age limit for access to bullfights should be raised to 18 years. The current ban does not fully heed the UN's request, but it is a positive development.

Since 2014, a public debate has been raging in Portugal about the presence of minors in bullfights. Our fellow organisation ANIMAL collected thousands of signatures in 2015 in favour of raising the maximum age. Other Portuguese colleague organisations took several steps to achieve the same result: no more minors in the bullring!

The Committee for the Rights of the Child also requested Spain, France, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia to protect children from the violence of bullfighting. In 2018, Ecuador banned the access of all minors to bullfights. Until then, it was forbidden to allow children under the age of 16 to attend these bloody spectacles. In other countries, several states decided to listen to the UN's request. For example, the Mexican states of Tijuana and Baja California banned minors from bullfighting. The Spanish Balearic Islands raised the age limit to 18 years in 2017, after joint lobbying by CAS, HSI and Spanish sister organisations. In all bullfighting countries, CAS - with the International Network Against Bullfighting and together with local organisations - has campaigned for the protection of minors.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child speaks about the right of all minors to a level of life appropriate for physical, mental, moral and social development. The State is obliged to take the necessary measures to protect minors, something that is not fulfilled by bullfighting. We know from various studies that the violence in the bullring has psychological consequences, such as trauma and the weakening of moral judgment and empathy.

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