Bastinado

Bastinado involves beating a prisoner on the soles of his or her feet with a stick. This method of torture relies on the fact that the foot is a fragile appendage with numerous bones, tendons, joints, and muscles. It is also a place where nerve endings are close to the surface and therefore especially susceptible to pain.  Such violence applied to the foot is particularly unpleasant.

During Bastinado, a victim's legs are usually bound together and often tied to a horizontal length of wood, so the feet are exposed to the torturer. Anything from a club to a slender bamboo wand is used to inflict the punishment. The pain radiates up the legs, coursing through the body and up to the head. After the torture, the prisoner might be forced to walk around, sometimes carrying weights on his back.

The act of Bastinado, generally used to punish miscreants but also to elicit answers from torture victims, extends back through history hundreds of years. An officially sanctioned penalty, Bastinado was popular in such countries as Persia and Turkey for many centuries. It was also used in other parts of the world. The Chinese practiced their techniques on blocks of bean curd to learn to hit the surface without breaking the skin so they could learn how to produce great pain while only leaving the lightest marks. Bastinado is still sometimes used in backroom tortures.

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