Ancient and Medieval Torture

Torture, generally, is defined in the Shorten Oxford dictionary as the infliction of excruciating pain, as practiced by cruel tyrants, brigands, etc in hatred or revenge, or as a means of extortion, etc. Torture is also the method in which the group or people who see this useful happen to inflict pain without any purpose hence to oppress, intimidate and terrorize the victimsthat is nowadays considered as an act of crime against humanity. In some definitions, like in David Hopes Torture (2004) he exemplified that, torture is used as part of the judicial process to obtain a confession or to extract information which is being withheld from the interrogator (808). The latter and former definition happens to take place from two different dimensions. These dimensions are the ancient or medieval era and the modern-day era. So to speak, from definition, torture is evident from these two ages.

Torture has its roots long time ago in fact, torture has its record long time ago, since 1551, according to what the dictionary tells about its earliest or first incidence (Hope 809), but actually torture has been done a long time ago, that we can predict this from the evolution of people. From the definition or torture itself, one might actually say that there are differences in the existence of the twolike on how and why they, the ancient and modern-day mankind, do it.

Ancient peoples rationale of torture is that it is used against people, who do not belong in the same society these are their captives or slaves, foreigners due to prisons of wars, or the half-members of the society, the ethnics or members of racial and religious outsider groups (Einolf 101). Christopher Einolf (102) indicated that, when torture is used against citizens, it is most commonly used in response to extremely serious crimes, such as treason, and where the state is perceived to be under threat. Like how they treat people who practice witchcraft, who is under the provision of torture, also the heretics or traitors of church, who often seen as traitors or threats of the state (Einolf 103).They do torture to get information or make the accused responsible for his or her actions. Torture here is more of a punishment and payment of wrongful acts.

The methods of torture that the ancient people do are varied according to the place of torture however the common or identified methods or techniques, based on what the suspects or offenders types and magnitude of crimes are the following. The dunk stool, a torture designed for witches and heresies wherein they will be tied up in a chair tied to a tree of stick located in a water, eventually they will drown to death, other than that are the most identified dreadful methods are head crusher, cats paw or Spanish tickler, knee splitter, scavengers daughter, Judas chair, Spanish donkey, choke pear, lead sprinkler, breast ripper, and the crocodile shears (Jfrater n.pag.).

Ancient torture had diminished or abolished overtime but rises eventually. From early centuries to the 20th century, there has been revival of torture but are more prevalent and modern in techniques and method than before. According to Einolf (104) this is a result of democracy. If the ancient torture is for the offenders, the modern-day torture appears to address and designed for the suspected offenders, more often than not they are termed as victims of tortures.

Modern day-mankind torture has a relatively recent definition that came from 1984 United Nations Convention against Torture, which is an excerpt from the introduction to the Istanbul Protocol, is that torture is a any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of a public officiator other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanction (Pincock 1462). The definition also explains why torture exists in the recent age. It appears that torture is a counterattack that is legitimized because of who do it, (e.g. public official, physicians), wherein they misbelieve that torture now is an act that is done for the sake of the whole humanity, even though sacrificing the few just for the safety of the many, such is terrorism.

Torture happens everywhere but its method is not universal and varies regionally, like for example, what Margriet Blaauw, a doctor from the IRCT, told The Lancet that a kind of beating of the soles of the feet is unique in the Middle East, which is also called as falanga, while in Soviet Union where a gas mask is put in somebody elses face and then eventually cut is called baby elephant. Other torture procedures that are done physically are beating, suffocation, and submersion in water, burns, rape and sexual assault. On the other hand, physical assault also inflicts pain psychologically, mentally, and emotionally. Isolation, humiliation, mock executions, forced witnessing against the loved ones for the torture of others is just half of the many implementation of torture towards psychological assault.

It seems as if torture is not more accepted now than before, beyond reasonable doubts it is worth abolishing because it violates human rights. From the reasons and methods that the ancient do with regard to the 20th century, torture has been overused or over done.


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