China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, and the USA what do these countries have in common? All of them have the death penalty as a legal form of punishment for crimes.
These countries are responsible for over 90% of known executions carried across the world every year. The debate still rages on whether it's even an active deterrent to crime, with research saying otherwise.
However, an argument can be made for the fact that the death penalty isn't the worst punishment out there.
To this day, various countries still practice some barbaric forms of punishment for various types of crime. Some are so gruesome that we have no doubt they'd prefer a death penalty to the sentence they've been handed out.
Don't believe us? Take a look at this list of the 10 most brutal punishment techniques from around the world that are still in practice today and decide for yourself.
Caning is a form of corporal punishment that consists of a number of hits or strokes with a single cane that's made of rattan, a species of old world climbing palms, and is applied to the offender's bare or clothed buttocks.
Once a feature of British colonial judicial systems, it's still used in various countries in southeast Asia as well as Africa.
One of the countries most guilty of using the practice is Singapore. In 2012, the country carried out 2,203 caning sentences, many of which were handed out to either illegal immigrants or vandals.
Malaysia even has a separate system of religious courts for Muslims only, which can order a much milder form of caning for women offenders. African countries that still using judicial caning include Botswana, Tanzania, and Nigeria.
Flagellation or flogging is the act of beating the human body (mostly the unclothed back of a person) with implements such as whips, lashes, rods etc. and is typically used as a punishment; though it can also be submitted to willingly, or performed on oneself, in religious contexts.
Widely condemned by organizations such as the United Nations and Amnesty International for being excessively cruel, it has been outlawed in many countries. However, countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran continue to administer it as a form of punishment, with the flogging mainly done in public and the victim possibly even a child.
The most prominent case was that of Saudi man named Raif Badawi, who in 2014, was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for insulting Islam.
While this one may seem out of place in a list which contains gruesome punishment methods, solitary confinement is arguably the most disturbing punishment of them all.
The inmate is isolated from any human contact for 22-24 hours a day, with the sentences ranging from days to decades. Used in cases where the prisoner has violated prison regulations or may present a risk of suicide, it has received severe criticism from various human rights organizations for having detrimental psychological effects and effectively constituting torture.
The United States is arguably the most guilty of doling out the punishment, with a reported 80,000 prisoners currently in solitary confinement.
One report by the Human Rights Watch describes the experience of solitary confinement as “the absence of normal social interaction, of reasonable mental stimulus, of exposure to the natural world, of almost everything that makes life human and bearable... [it] is emotionally, physically, and psychologically destructive.”
Dismemberment is the act of cutting, tearing, pulling or otherwise removing the limbs of the victim - mainly their arm, leg, hand, or foot. In some cases, it's carried out humanely, with the victim amputated in a medical environment by doctors while they are still unconscious. In other cases, it's carried out through much cruder methods, with hands and feet being cut off without any anesthetic at all.
The tradition finds its base in Islamic Sharia Law and is carried out in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Sudan. In some instances, “cross amputation” is used as a punishment for crimes such as armed robbery in which the right hand and the left foot are both cut off.
Though it has been condemned by various organizations as a form of torture, it still continues to be regularly handed out as a form of punishment.
Blinding is an archaic form of punishment that results in complete or nearly complete loss of vision. Commonly used as an act of vengeance or torture, the method has been practiced since Antiquity in the 7th century. It still survives as a form of penalty in the modern era, as a part of Islamic Sharia law.
A popular case took place in 2003 when a Pakistani court sentenced a man to be blinded after he subjected his fiancee to an acid attack resulting in loss of vision.
The 'qesas' aspect of the Sharia law permits physical retribution against criminals who have committed violent crimes and is based on the ancient principle of 'eye for an eye'. It's usually carried out by blinding either one or both of the criminal's eyes by either gouging them or pouring acid on them.
Beheading or decapitation is a form of punishment where the head is completely severed from the body. It is accomplished using an axe, sword, knife or in older times, by guillotine. The most common perpetrators these days are ISIS or Islamic State and have been regularly known to behead people they held captive, enemy soldiers, and hostages as a part of the propaganda videos they regularly upload online.
The only country in the world where beheading is regularly and legally carried out is Saudi Arabia. The country follows a strict interpretation of Sharia law that allows for crimes such as rape, murder, apostasy, and drug trafficking to be punishable by death.
Despite pressure from various international organizations, they have not budged and still continue to administer the barbaric practice as a form of punishment.
Stoning or lapidation is a method of capital punishment where a group throws stones at a person until they die. One of the slowest forms of execution, it's considered by many to be a form of execution by torture. The practice is still widely used in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Qatar, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, northern Nigeria, and Pakistan. It's also done extra-judicially in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq though it has been outlawed.
It's carried out as a punishment for adultery. Women are much more likely to be suspected and convicted of adultery than men and make up a majority of the victims. The most horrific case was that of a 13-year-old girl from Somalia who was stoned to death in front of thousands of people.
Amnesty reported that she had been convicted of adultery after she tried to report a rape to the Islamist group that controlled the area.
While this may seem like a technique taken straight out of a mafia or drug cartel handbook, various cases of premature burial have been reported around the world. The fear of being buried alive is one of the most common phobias in the world and organizations such as the Islamic State reportedly often use it as a form of execution.
According to a 2014 report, ISIS militants killed hundreds of members of the Yazidi minority group by burying them alive, with victims consisting of even women and children. They've also buried their own soldiers as punishment for fleeing the battlefield. It also occurs in countries such as Turkey where it is carried out in the name of 'honor killing'.
Crucifixion is arguably known around the world because of what happened to Jesus Christ and is a form of capital punishment in which the victim is tied, nailed, or otherwise attached to a large wooden beam and left to hang for several days until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation. While many believe the punishment died out many centuries ago, ISIS militants have been known to crucify those who have attempted to resist them.
Not so surprisingly, the punishment is still legal under Saudi Arabia's penal code. Most famously, the Saudi government sentenced a 17-year-old boy named Ali al-Nimr to crucifixion for his participation in anti-government protests. Amnesty International has condemned the act as “the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”
Used as a common method of execution in medieval times for crimes such as treason, rebellious actions by slaves, heresy, witchcraft and sexual transgressions, such as incest or homosexuality, it is still shockingly used in various parts of the world. ISIS is the most common culprit, burning hundreds of victims alive and then uploading the videos of such executions online; the most famous being that of captured 26-year-old Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh.
The technique is also commonly used in Kenya, where villagers still reportedly burn alive people suspected of witchcraft. Other cases include that of a 16-year-old girl who was burned alive by a mob in Guatemala for her alleged compliance in the murder of a taxi driver and that of a man who was burned alive in Venezuela in 2016 for taking part in a robbery.
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