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Foot whipping or bastinado is a form of corporal punishment in which the soles (usually the vaults or arches) of a person's bare feet are beaten. The strokes are typically applied with an implement in the type of a rod or cane and repeated a varying number of times.
It is also referred to as foot/feet caning, sole caning, sole beating or foot bottom caning. The particular Middle East method is called falaka, also spelled falaqa, falanga or phalanga, derivative from the Greek term falange. The contemporary German term is Bastonade, derivative from the Italian verb bastonare (to beat), in former times also Sohlenstreich (lit. the sole strike). In China it is referred to as jiao xing.
The first documentation of bastinado in European civilizations dates back to the year 1537, in China to 960. It is referenced in the bible in multiple passages (Prov. 22:15; Lev. 19:20; Deut. 22:18), suggesting the practice since antiquity.
Foot whipping is mostly associated with Middle and Far Eastern civilizations, where it is occasionally executed in public and covered by reports and photographs. However, bastinado was also a conventional method in Western countries to enforce discipline in prisons, reformatories, boarding schools and similar institutions authorized by a prevailing right of corporal punishment. For instance, the Bastonade was a common form of corporal punishment in German territories, where it was regularly practiced within the penal and reformatory system, at this used extensively during the Nazi-Regime. In several German and Austrian institutions it was still employed during the 1950's.
For being generally carried out closed off from the general public in Western civilizations and due to its unspectacular appearance as against more commonly accounted forms of corporal punishment, bastinado is largely disregarded in this context, although it has actually been an integral part in the Western penal system. However foot whipping was principally made use of for disciplinary purposes within different institutions rather than being imposed judicially in Western countries.
Bastinado is to this day a permanent feature of disciplinary punishment of prisoners in several countries. As it inflicts intense pain on the receiving person while physical evidence remains practically undetectable after a period of recuperation, it is often used for (political) torture as well.
Foot whipping was a commonplace method of disciplinary punishment throughout Central Europe until the 1950's, especially in German territories. 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.
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 be avoided. As slave-codes often stipulated that slaves were to remain barefoot, bastinado could be used with minimal effort. 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.
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. 
Bastinado is mostly carried out with an auxiliary device such as a cane, a rod, a short leather whip, a flexible rubber bat, a leather strap or an electric cable. The prisoner is usually immobilized by different means of restraints for the punishment. 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. However different methods of restraining the individual were used according to different practical approaches. The German method during the Nazi-regime consisted in restraining the prisoner prone to a wooden bench or a plank with the soles of the feet facing upwards forcing a full plantarflexion. The ankles and upper body were restrained to the bench with hands tied behind. The person was hereby rendered practically immobile so the punishment could be carried out with enough accuracy in order to avoid unintentional injury. The beating was carried out 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 barefoot.
Common to all methods the person is secured to restrain the motions in a way, so the position of the feet cannot be altered during the procedure. This is done mainly to avert serious injuries that mostly occur, if the feet are moved out of position and hit in an injury-prone area. The middle eastern falaka method is hereby more prone to cause injuries than the former German bastonade method, 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 injury-prone areas can be affected. Under the German bastonade the person was practically rendered immobile with the feet and ankles tightly fastened in place. Moreover as the falaka method is generally carried out with a massive stick, it causes a high rate of blunt trauma to the musculoskeletal system as against the usage of thin and mostly flexible implements with the bastonade, where the stroke impact remains superficial.
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.
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. 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.
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 circumstance are sufficient to cause considerable physical as well as mental distress and usually convey a profound effect of intimidation on the captive individual. 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 entirely unclothed feet, particularly the unprotected soles, mostly induces an aggrieving impact on the respective individual. The primal beating of the foot bottoms, a rather private part of the body usually hidden, sufficiently protected and inaccessible, for this purpose visibly displayed, unprotected and accessible at will, moreover signifies the imbalance in power between the executing party (usually prison staff) towards the receiving person (usually prison inmate). This combination of circumstances can already have an emotionally demoralizing effect on the person rendering foot whipping one of the most degrading forms of corporal punishment. The entire process, usually involving strict restraining and an enforced subjugating posture along with vast experiences of inflicted physical suffering, is hereby generally perceived as severely humiliating by the receiving individual. The circumstances of the punishment are also set to evolve a dishonoring effect in the sociological 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 the United States the use of foot whipping is documented in juvenile penal institutions until 1969, as for example in Massachusetts.
- Foot whipping was used in juvenile institutions and protectories in Austria until the 1960s.
- In Germany during the era of National Socialism bastinado was administered in women's penitentiaries and penal camps, where female prisoners were often kept barefoot. During that period of time it was also regularly used in juvenile institutions in German territories.
- British colonial police officer Charles Tegart is said to have instituted foot whipping, a practice derived from the former Ottoman rule, in an interrogation centre established at Jerusalem in 1938, as part of the effort to crush the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine.
- Foot whipping was used by Fascist Blackshirts against Freemasons critical of Benito Mussolini as early as 1923 (Dalzell, 1961).
- It was used as a method of torture during the Greek Civil War of 1946 to 1949 and the regime of the Colonels in Greece, from 1967 to 1974.
- Applied by Soviet Union to Vsevolod Meyerhold in 1939.
- It was reported that Russian prisoners of war were "bastinadoed' at Afion camp by their Turkish captors during World War I. However British prisoners escaped this treatment.
- Foot whipping was, among other methods, used as a method of obtaining confession from alleged political criminals during the communist regime of Czechoslovakia
- Bahá'u'lláh (founder of the Bahá'í Faith) underwent foot whipping in August 1852 as a follower of the Babi religion. (Esslemont, 1937).
- It was used throughout the Ottoman Empire.
- Foot whipping was used at the S-21 prison in Phnom Penh during the rule of the Khmer Rouge and is mentioned in the ten regulations to prisoners now on display in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
- This punishment has, at various times, been used in China, as well as the Middle East.
In modern times
- Foot whipping was a commonly reported torture method used by the security officers of Bahrain on its citizens between 1974 and 2001. 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).
- 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.
- Kerala Police is supposed to have used this as a part of torturing Naxals during the emergency period.
- Reportedly used by Assad regime on Syrians in Homs.
- 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.
- 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."
- Cfr. Wolfgang Schweickard, Turkisms in Italian, French and German (Ottoman Period, 1300-1900). A historical and etymological dictionary s.v. falaka
- Torture and Democracy by Darius Rejali. p. 274.
- www.biblegateway.com "[BASTINADO"]. Retrieved 2014-03-06.
- kurier.at "[Wimmersdorf: 270 Schläge auf die Fußsohlen"]. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "krone.at" vom 29. März 2012 Berichte über Folter im Kinderheim auf der Hohen Warte; 2014-03-03
- Torture and Democracy von Darius Rejali. S. 275.
- Ruxandra Cesereanu: An Overview of Political Torture in the Twentieth Century. p. 124f.
- Torture and Democracy by Darius Rejali. p. 275
- "Cape Town and Surrounds.". Western Cape Government. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
- Torture and Democracy by Darius Rejali. p. 277.
- Torture and Democracy by Darius Rejali. p. 275f.
- AI Newsletter 09-1987 Illustrated Reports of Amnesty International 20.01.2012
- Schmerzrezeptoren in „MedizInfo“ about pain receptors; 20.01.2013.
- Schmerz und Angst in „Praxisklinik Dr. med. Thomas Weiss“ about intensification of pain through anxiety; 20.01.2014.
- Lederhaut in „MedizInfo“ about the dermis; 20.01.2014
- 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
- Torture and Democracy von Darius Rejali. S. 275.
- „krone.at“ 29.03.2012 Berichte über Folter in Kinderheimen auf der Hohen Warte; 22.02.2014
- Vgl. Ruxandra Cesereanu: An Overview of Political Torture in the Twentieth Century. S. 124f.
- Rochelle G. Saidel: 30.10.2013
- Jan Erik Schulte: Konzentrationslager im Rheinland und in Westfalen 1933-1945, Schoeningh Ferdinand GmbH, 2005. 30.10.2013.
- Brandenburgische Landeszentrale für politische Bildung: 
- 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.
- Christopher Pugsley, Gallipolli: The New Zealand Story, Appendix 1, p. 357.
- 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:
- E/CN.4/1997/7 Fifty-third session, Item 8(a) of the provisional agenda UN Doc., 10 January 1997.
- "An Analysis of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Legal Cases, 1998-2006" (PDF).
- Sibongile Sukati (9 September 2010). "Sipakatane for rowdy foreigners". Times of Swaziland (Mbabane).
- "INDIA: Dalit boy tortured and humiliated at a police station in Kerala — Asian Human Rights Commission". Humanrights.asia. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
- 4:33PM GMT 05 March 2012 (2012-03-05). "Secret footage showing 'torture' of Syrians in Homs hospital". Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
- "Justice en Tunisie : un printemps inachevé". ACAT.