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Foot whipping an offender, Iran, 1920s
Falak whipping the soles of a criminal. One of Antoin Sevruguin's historical Iran photographs

Bastinado or foot whipping are the most common terms for beating the soles of a person's bare feet as a method of corporal punishment.

The strokes are mostly inflicted with an object in the type of a cane or a crop and repeated over a varying number of times while they are usually targeted at the uncovered vaults or arches of the foot. The impacted area often effectively extends into parts of the heel and the ball of the foot.

It is also referred to as foot (bottom) caning or sole caning. The particular Middle East method is called falaka,[1] remotely derivative from the Greek term phalanx. The common German term is Bastonade, deriving from the Italian noun bastonata (stroke with the use of a stick), in former centuries it was also referred to as Sohlenstreich (sole stroke). The chinese term is jiao xing.

The first documentation of bastinado in Europe dates back to the year 1537, in China to 960.[2] It is referenced in the Bible in multiple passages (Prov. 22:15; Lev. 19:20; Deut. 22:18), suggesting the practice of foot whipping since antiquity.[3]

Bastinado is mostly associated with Middle and Far Eastern civilizations, where it is occasionally executed in public and covered by reports and photographs. However it has also been practiced within prisons, reformatories, boarding schools and similar institutions in Western countries.

In Western nations bastinado was a common form of corporal punishment notably in German territories, where it was carried out to enforce discipline within the penal and reformatory system, at this used extensively during the Nazi-Regime. In several German and Austrian institutions it was still in use during the 1950s.[4][5][6][7] Although bastinado has formerly been commonplace in the Western penal system, it is usually disregarded in the context of corporal punishment mainly as it was not imposed judicially, but typically made use of for disciplinary purposes within different institutions. Also it was generally practiced closed off from the public and the appearance of foot whipping is relatively unspectacular compared to more commonly accounted methods.

Bastinado is still frequently used for punishment of prisoners in several countries (see below). As it inflicts intense pain on the receiving person while physical evidence remains practically undetectable after some time, it is often used for torture in oppressive regimes as well.

Appearance[edit]

Bastinado is most prevalent in situations, where individuals are forced to remain barefoot and are principally subjected to corporal punishment, notably imprisonment and historical slavery.

Foot whipping was a commonplace method of disciplinary punishment throughout Central Europe until the 1950's, especially in German territories.[4][5] During the German Nazi-era it was widely used within penal institutions and labor camps. It was also frequently employed in occupied territories against the native population, cases are reported from Denmark and Norway.[8]

During the era of slavery in Brazil and the American South it was often made use of whenever so-called "clean beating" was indicated. This was the case when the loss in marketable value which could be caused by the injuries sustained through the usual whipping was to be avoided. As slave-codes often stipulated that slaves were to remain barefoot, bastinado could be used with minimal effort.[9] For female slaves with higher marketable value bastinado was used as an alternative, as it was effective but usually left no severe or lasting injuries.[10]

Bastinado has been and is still employed as prison punishment in several countries and also used for interrogations. It was commonly used in Greek prisons, 83% of all inmates reported the use of bastinado in a 1967 survey. It was also used against rioting students. In Spanish prisons it was used as 39% of the inmates reported about this kind of treatment in an evaluation. The French Sûreté used it to extract confessions. British occupants made use of it in Palestine, French occupants in Algeria. Within colonial India it was used to sanction tax offenses. Within Europe bastinado was reportedly used in Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Greece, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Portugal, Macedonia, Lithuania, Georgia, Ukraine, Cyprus, Slovakia and Croatia. Other nations with recorded use of bastinado are Syria, Israel, Turkey, Marocco, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Tunesia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua, Chile, South Afrika, Venezuela, Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, Paraguay, Honduras, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Cameroon, Mauritius, Philippines, South Korea, Pakistan and Nepal. [11]

Execution[edit]

Depiction of bastinado bench as used in several German prisons during the Nazi-era

Bastinado is typically implemented with an auxiliary device such as a cane, a rod, a short whip or a strap. The prisoner is barefooted and usually secured in different kinds of restraints according to varying practical approaches. Common to all methods the person is restrained in a way, so the position of the feet cannot be altered while under the punishment. This is mainly done to avert serious injuries that can occur, if the feet move out of position and are inadvertently hit on an injury-prone spot.

The Middle Eastern falaka method implies tying and securing the person's feet into an elevated position while lying on the back, beating is generally done with a wooden stick. The Persian term falaka refers to the eponymous wooden plank which is used to secure the feet prior to beating. The German method during the Nazi-regime consisted in restraining the prisoner prone to a wooden bench or a plank with the bare soles facing upwards forcing a full plantarflexion. The ankles and upper body were fastened to the bench with hands tied behind. The person was hereby rendered practically immobile so the punishment could be carried out with enough accuracy to avoid inadvertent injuries. The beating was inflicted with a leather strap, cane or short whip. This form was mainly used in women's prisons and labor camps where inmates were often kept uniformly barefoot.[7][12]

The middle eastern falaka method is generally more prone to cause injuries than the formerly used German bastonade, as the person undergoing the falaka is still able to tilt the feet sideways and change their position from plantar- to dorsiflexion. Motions of the person's upper body further impair the accuracy. As a result the strokes impact randomly and vulnerable spots can be affected. As the middle eastern falaka method is typically carried out with a rigid stick, is mostly causes blunt trauma to the musculoskeletal system often leaving the person unable to walk for some time. For the German method the person was rendered virtually immobile with the feet, ankles and upper body fastened in place and relatively thin and flexible implements were used to avert severe injuries. This ensured the prisoner to remain overall capable of work after the punishment.

Physical effects[edit]

The strokes usually aim at the longitudinal arch of the foot which is a highly pain susceptible area due to the clustering of nerve endings especially inside the vault. When using thin and flexible instruments the sensations are described as stinging or lightning, the aftereffect as searing or burning while the pain experience upon impact is relatively intense and reflexively spreads through the body. The pain sensitivity of the soles does not recede under continuous beatings as there is no adaptation to recurring pain sensations unlike other skin areas. To the contrary the subjective perception of pain escalates through additional impacts due to an increasing activation of the nociceptors. With a certain level of activation, an impact usually perceived as not painful as such can therefore already cause a slight to intense pain sensation for the receiving person. So despite a constant or slightly subsiding intensity of impacts the person's subjective perception of pain is gradually increasing up to a certain degree.

The subjective experience of physical pain can also diverge according to the person's individual pain tolerance and possible amplification through sentiments of fear and anxiety. Hereby the human organism is generally more susceptible to pain the more agitated the person is about it.[13][14]

When implemented with a thin and flexible object the physical effects usually remain temporary with no injury to the numerous bones and tendons of the foot as they are protected by the muscles of the foot. The impact is largely absorbed by the skin and muscular tissue so it does not affect the bones. Hematoma rarely occur because of the high thickness and elasticity of the skin under the foot similar to that of the palms, so the person normally sustains no serious injuries indicating medical attention.[15] Visible marks recede within hours while the painful aftereffects also ease off. The person usually remains able to walk after the punishment if no massive objects are used for the beating.

If the bastinado is applied with heavy and inflexible objects using the middle eastern falaka method, the injuries sustained can take a long time to heal with lasting or irreversible damage to the musculoskeletal system.

Psychological effects[edit]

Being forced to remain barefoot in a detention situation can by itself evoke notable sentiments of insecurity on the captive person due to the general vulnerability of unshod feet as well as their unaccustomed and mostly reluctant visual exposure. These circumstances are sufficient to cause considerable physical as well as mental distress and usually convey a profound effect of intimidation on the captive individual.[16] These effects are usually vastly intensified if the particularly sensitive undersides are the target for a means of physical punishment, hereby particularly aggravating the effect of intimidation on the naturally defenseless captive.

As the feet are habitually clothed in and protected by shoes as a self-evident sociocultural feature with especially the undersides not visible to other people, the forced presentation of uncovered soles mostly already induces an unsettling impact on the individual. The primal beating of the foot bottoms, which are usually hidden, protected and inaccessible, for this purpose visibly displayed, unprotected and accessible at will, incidentally signifies a steep imbalance in power between the executing party (usually prison staff) towards the receiving person (usually prison inmate). As the punishment situation by itself can already have a detrimental emotional effect on the receiving person, bastinado is generally regarded as one of the most demoralizing forms of corporal punishment, therefore it is still frequently used in penal institutions of many countries. The entire process, usually involving strict restraining and an enforced subjugating posture along with vast experiences of inflicted physical suffering, is typically perceived as severely humiliating by the receiving individual. The circumstances of the punishment can also have a dishonoring effect in the societal context.

The mostly incurring loss of self-control due to the repetitious experiences of incisive pain, accompanied by a distinct cognition of helplessness, can further cause persistent damage to the captive person's self-esteem and self-perception.

In history[edit]

In modern times[edit]

  • Foot whipping was a commonly reported torture method used by the security officers of Bahrain on its citizens between 1974 and 2001.[26] See Torture in Bahrain.
  • Falanga is allegedly used by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) against persons suspected of involvement with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change parties (MDC-T and MDC-M).[27]
  • The Prime Minister of Swaziland, Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, threatened to use this form of torture (sipakatane) to punish South African activists who had taken part in a mass protest for democracy in that country.[28]
  • Kerala Police is supposed to have used this as a part of torturing Naxals during the emergency period.[29]
  • Reportedly used by Assad regime on Syrians in Homs.[30]
  • Use phalanx of torturing prisoners has been reported on the status of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in Iraq (1979-2003).
  • Reportedly used in Tunisia by security forces.[31]

In literature[edit]

  • In act V, scene I of the Shakespearean comedy As You Like It, Touchstone threatens William with the line: "I will deal in poison with thee, or in bastinado, or in steel..."
  • In act I, scene X of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail ("The Abduction from the Seraglio"), Osmin threatens Belmonte and Pedrillo with bastinado: "Sonst soll die Bastonade Euch gleich zu Diensten steh'n."
  • In act I, scene XIX of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute, Sarastro orders Monostatos to be punished with 77 blows on the soles of his feet: "He! gebt dem Ehrenmann sogleich/nur sieben und siebenzig Sohlenstreich'."
  • In Chapter 8, Climatic Conditions, of Robert Irwin’s novel The Arabian Nightmare, Sultan’s doppelgänger is discovered and is questioned. “He was bastinadoed lightly to make him talk (for a heavy bastinado killed), but the man sobered up quickly and said nothing.”
  • In Chapter 31 of Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain, a member of Twain's party goes to collect a specimen from the face of the Sphinx and Twain sends a sheik to warn him of the consequences: "...by the laws of Egypt the crime he was attempting to commit was punishable with imprisonment or the bastinado."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cfr. Wolfgang Schweickard, Turkisms in Italian, French and German (Ottoman Period, 1300-1900). A historical and etymological dictionary s.v. falaka
  2. ^ Torture and Democracy by Darius Rejali. p. 274.
  3. ^ www.biblegateway.com "[BASTINADO"]. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  4. ^ a b c kurier.at "[Wimmersdorf: 270 Schläge auf die Fußsohlen"]. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  5. ^ a b "krone.at" vom 29. März 2012 Berichte über Folter im Kinderheim auf der Hohen Warte; 2014-03-03
  6. ^ Torture and Democracy von Darius Rejali. S. 275.
  7. ^ a b Ruxandra Cesereanu: An Overview of Political Torture in the Twentieth Century. p. 124f.
  8. ^ Torture and Democracy by Darius Rejali. p. 275
  9. ^ "Cape Town and Surrounds.". Western Cape Government. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  10. ^ Torture and Democracy by Darius Rejali. p. 277.
  11. ^ Torture and Democracy by Darius Rejali. p. 275f.
  12. ^ AI Newsletter 09-1987 Illustrated Reports of Amnesty International 20.01.2012
  13. ^ Schmerzrezeptoren in „MedizInfo“ about pain receptors; 20.01.2013.
  14. ^ Schmerz und Angst in „Praxisklinik Dr. med. Thomas Weiss“ about intensification of pain through anxiety; 20.01.2014.
  15. ^ Lederhaut in „MedizInfo“ about the dermis; 20.01.2014
  16. ^ cite news|title=Long hours in a Harare jail.|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/2018917.stm%7Caccessdate=October 6, 2014|newspaper=BBC News|date=June 1, 2002
  17. ^ Torture and Democracy von Darius Rejali. S. 275.
  18. ^ „krone.at“ 29.03.2012 Berichte über Folter in Kinderheimen auf der Hohen Warte; 22.02.2014
  19. ^ Vgl. Ruxandra Cesereanu: An Overview of Political Torture in the Twentieth Century. S. 124f.
  20. ^ Rochelle G. Saidel: 30.10.2013
  21. ^ Jan Erik Schulte: Konzentrationslager im Rheinland und in Westfalen 1933-1945, Schoeningh Ferdinand GmbH, 2005. 30.10.2013.
  22. ^ Brandenburgische Landeszentrale für politische Bildung: [1]
  23. ^ Pericles Korovessis, The Method: A Personal Account of the Tortures in Greece, trans. Les Nightingale and Catherine Patrarkis (London: Allison & Busby, 1970); extract in William F. Schulz, The Phenomenon of Torture: Readings and Commentary, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007, pp. 71-9.
  24. ^ Christopher Pugsley, Gallipolli: The New Zealand Story, Appendix 1, p. 357.
  25. ^ Kroupa, Mikuláš (10. března 2012). "Příběhy 20. století: Za vraždu estébáka se komunisté mstili torturou" [Tales of the 20th century: For the murder of a state security officer, the communists took revenge with torture]. iDnes (in Czech). Retrieved 2012-07-01.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  26. ^ E/CN.4/1997/7 Fifty-third session, Item 8(a) of the provisional agenda UN Doc., 10 January 1997.
  27. ^ "An Analysis of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Legal Cases, 1998-2006" (PDF).
  28. ^ Sibongile Sukati (9 September 2010). "Sipakatane for rowdy foreigners". Times of Swaziland (Mbabane). 
  29. ^ "INDIA: Dalit boy tortured and humiliated at a police station in Kerala — Asian Human Rights Commission". Humanrights.asia. Retrieved 2012-05-06. 
  30. ^ 4:33PM GMT 05 March 2012 (2012-03-05). "Secret footage showing 'torture' of Syrians in Homs hospital". Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-05-06. 
  31. ^ "Justice en Tunisie : un printemps inachevé". ACAT. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_whipping — Please support Wikipedia.
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16 news items

Metro

Metro
Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:00:59 -0800

I'd never seen a Temple Of Doom game so was keen to try it. It is split into three areas, on foot-whipping guards and rescuing children, a mine cart section, then a battle with the boss trying to capture the sankara stones. It looks awful and plays ...
 
Today's Zaman
Sun, 28 Sep 2014 09:52:30 -0700

In Turkey, we don't see anymore certain types of torture, such as foot whipping, Palestinian hanging and electrical shock, as the authorities have seen that physicians diagnose those methods of torture. Now, authorities use torture methods that are ...

Today's Zaman

Today's Zaman
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 12:18:45 -0700

The times of foot whipping are long gone," said İhsanoğlu, a former head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation who is the joint candidate for the CHP, the party of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern secular Turkish state, and of the ...

TODAYonline

TODAYonline
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 10:05:00 -0700

The times of foot whipping are long gone," said Ihsanoglu, a former head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation who is the joint candidate for the CHP, the party of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern secular Turkish state, and of the ...
 
Camel Clutch Blog (blog)
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 07:15:00 -0700

On the apron, Stardust yanks the other one down by the foot, whipping him onto his back. In the ring, Henry throws Dallas into the corner. On the other side, Stardust tries a dive on Henry. Henry sees it coming, catches him and hits the World's ...

Naharnet

Naharnet
Wed, 26 Mar 2014 05:36:24 -0700

The video showed the principal, M. D., brutally foot whipping one terrified student after another, while they cried and begged him to stop. The school, which belongs to the al-Maqassed Philanthropic Islamic Association, is located in the Sarafand town ...

Fight News

Fight News
Sun, 25 Aug 2013 00:18:45 -0700

Lee, from the third on, made good use of his speed on hand and foot, whipping the strong but slower Filipino despite suffering a bad gash over the left eyebrow. His continual retaliation wasn't enough to overcome his early deficits on points, though it ...
 
Daily Mail
Sun, 18 Dec 2011 18:01:22 -0800

A third shows the mayor of a district in Idlib province being subjected to a foot-whipping technique known as falaqa. The footage is believed to have been filmed by soldiers from the elite 4th Armoured Division, which is commanded by Assad's brother Maher.
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