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Torture in the 21st century: New Method, Same Pain

The Dark Ages were definitely bitchin’ if you were a tyrant or an executioner…. There were so many fun, new methods of doing your job (i.e., torture). The Iron Maiden, the Rack, being drawn and quartered- I mean the sky was the limit for those guys. It’s a bummer streaming television wasn’t available back then; maybe the brains behind the bloodletting would’ve really gotten into some Netflix and Chill, perhaps watched some PLANET EARTH and just mellowed out. But hey- those are the breaks, and really, not my job, not my prob.

But, since Sean Reveron did so well writing about Medieval torture, I wanted to try and bring my own pieces of flair to the barbecue, and add on to his very informative, very well done post. I will now try to inform you, the already well-read and knowledgeable reader, about some super unsettling forms of torture that are being practiced closer to the here and now. It’s that time of year my pagan ancestors once referred to as Samhain, and what better way to creep yourself as we enter the “darker half” of the year than reading about forms of slow death that have been getting play in the last couple hundred years in Asia, Russia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and even here in the good ole US of A.

So, without further ado, I submit to you, fine and educated reader, the most horrific forms of current day torture that I found while scouring the World Wide Web (and let me say, there are some websites out there that are just totally FUBAR. Truly sick shit).


The act of “necklacing” consists of this: a person is grabbed and held as a tire that has been filled with gasoline is slipped over their heads and arms, basically locking them into place. After they have been “necklaced”, so to speak, the true pain begins. The victim is then lit aflame, so they are actually burning alive from the gas that is fueling the fire that has been lit. In addition, the rubber of the tires begins to melt from the extreme heat, and could then mesh with the molten skin of the victims, making the chances of recovery (if they were to actually escape the ring of fire) basically impossible. The victim is unable to get this burning circle of death off of them because the arms are held tight to the body by the tire. However, it is not unheard for the inflicting party to go the extra mile and chop off the hands of the necklacing victim, or tie their hands behind their back with barbed wire, making death all but certain. “Necklacing” came to public attention during the period of Apartheid in South Africa. It was typically a method used by the masses of anti-apartheid protestors, not against the white Afrikaans ruling class, but against fellow black South Africans, usually as a way of punishing a person they believed to be colluding with the authorities, and sometimes even used on black police officers, who were viewed as traitors.

The first death by necklacing to be captured on film was of Maki Skosana, who was abducted from the funeral of a friend, necklaced, had a large rock bashed into her head and finally, after she was dead, had pieces of glass shoved into her vagina. It is reported that during the most heated points of the anti-apartheid movement, anywhere between 300-700 people died from necklacing. I think what makes this even more chilling is it still is used in South Africa, doled out as a form of vigilante justice as Mark Oliver notes that “Necklacing lived on as a way of taking out rapists and thieves. In 2015, a group of five teenage boys was necklaced for getting in a bar fight.” WHAT? A bar fight? The worst thing that ever happened to me was being escorted out of the bar, while I yelled to no one in particular: “I’ve been kicked out of shittier bars than this!” I’ve also been a member of the bar security staff many times, and while I may have taken some liberties and bounced a few knuckleheads off the walls while I was showing them the door, I never wanted to set them ablaze. That is hardcore, man.

2) Bamboo Torture

While there seems to be some vagueness around the veracity of this type of torture, I’m inclined to believe it was in fact used as a form of physical torture during the second Big War. I had read this was initially called “Chinese bamboo torture”, and was used in the days before modern warfare. However, the more I read about it, I get the sinking feeling that this gruesome act has taken place many times over the years. Apparently, during WW2, the Japanese military would take POWs, be they American, British, Chinese, etc., and they’d tie these prisoners over bamboo shoots that were growing. But bamboo doesn’t grow like your normal conifer sapling. No, it grows fast and strong, like a 15-year-old getting his first lap dance at a jiggle joint (all jokes aside, bamboo can grow in excess of 3 feet per day.) Now, what makes this extra gnarly is the fact that bamboo is incredibly strong- it’s been known to grow through concrete. Bamboo is what professional Muy Thai fighters use in Thailand to strengthen, condition, and more or less toughen their shins- they literally go into the forest and kick down gigantic shoots of bamboo- basically big fucking trees that had a little bend to them- (BEASTS!) So what would happen to these poor unfortunate souls is they would be bound hand and foot and then placed in an elevated position over these bamboo shoots. Then, over the course of the day, these persons would start to feel these shoots begin to tear through their skin, soft tissue, organs, and bones.

I get squeamish when I have to give a blood sample. I refuse to even look at my arm till I have been given a band-aid and a lollipop, so I am positive the deed is done; I can not begin to fathom the excruciating pain of feeling the shoots plunge in and up, let alone having to look down and see a fucking tree growing through my groin. This form of torture had the potential to lead to a fast death, but frequently the agony of the afflicted would last a few days, at least. And while you might be saying to yourself “Really? Bamboo? That’s just panda snacks! No way it’s pushing directly through a human being!”, Mythbusters did a show testing it out…..and OH YEAH, IT DOES THE TRICK.

3) White Torture

White Torture, sometimes called white room torture, is an advanced form of psychological torture. You think having to listen to the “Barney the Dinosaur” theme song on repeat in Abu Ghraib was cruel and unusual punishment? Well sit down, shut up and strap in, because that is a day at the beach compared to what’s in store.

“He who breaks the law goes back to the house of pain!”

So what happens in this process of torture is that the “torturee”, for lack of a better word, is placed in a white room, completely alone, where all forms of outside noise are inaudible (there have been reports that people who have gone through this were able to hear their own heartbeat because the room, and the facility the room existed in, was so utterly quiet.) Guards at these facilities wear special shoes that muffle their steps. The prisoner is kept alone 24/7, with no outside stimulation. The white lights in the room are kept on at all times, making sleep very difficult. The prisoner’s garments are all white, as are the uniforms of the guards, as is the food they are served: white rice on a white plate.

This form of torture has been used around the world, in various forms to varying degrees. The Iranians were fans of it when it came to breaking political dissidents. The British Army used another form against the Irish they took in for questioning during The Troubles, as a way of inflicting great pressure without actually roughing up the political prisoners (that’s a really sick use of a loophole). The United States, too, has been guilty of using sensory deprivation, specifically at their holding facility in Gitmo, by placing prisoners in solitary confinement in windowless cells, as well as bringing prisoners outside and placing them in stress positions, with hands (that are covered in incredibly thick gloves) and feet bound, as well as their eyes and ears covered.

This form of torture is particularly effective because after being locked alone so long, hearing nothing, seeing basically nothing (white isn’t actually a color- I learned that in 5th grade, no big deal), you truly begin to lose it. You would be so unstable your captors could tell you anything, and chances are you’d pay it credence; if not only because you are more or less breaking down, but also once you are fed these morsels of information, you can do nothing but play it over and over in your head, because what else is there to do? You can’t scroll Instagram and look at memes, and there’s definitely no Xanax being given to the inmates. And the effects of this torture are long-lasting which, sickly enough, is one of the main reasons it is used. The time these prisoners spend in isolation completely strips away any semblance of their identity, of who they were. When you leave the white room, you are forever changed.

4) Water Cure Torture

Now here is a torture method that has been used all around the world by the Dutch, the French, the Spanish- the list goes on. But it really only received its current name in the past century or so, around the time of the Spanish-American war. And while “The Water Cure” sounds like some kind of colonic/juice cleanse that the trophy wives of Greenwich, Connecticut rave about, I assure you, this is not the case. Here’s the quick and dirty: this method of torture resembles water-boarding to an extent, but instead of the sensation of drowning, the receiver of “the cure” is forced to swallow all the water and what have you (I’ve read urine and bile have been swapped out for H20 at times), that is doled out, which is roughly 1 gallon at a time. This is possible because usually the soul enduring the process has something jamming their mouth open — an iron prong, a shotgun barrel, a large pipe, etc. — which was occasionally accompanied by a rag, called a toca, shoved down their throat to impede their swallowing and also give them something more to choke on. Once down, the ones administering the cure would either roll the guy onto his side so he could hack up some of the liquid he was just force-fed before being “cured” again, or jumped up and down on the thoroughly bloated body until vomiting was induced.

American troops dish out their version of justice to a Filipino prisoner.

Accounts of those who’ve seen this type of practice go down report that the water cure recipient could be swollen and bloated to two to three times the size they were before, not to mention the countless others who died of gastric distension, water intoxication and straight up drowning. This method of torture was used by Spanish, American, Japanese and Filipino armed forces, as well as the Nazi Gestapo, Communists during the Korean War, and even by the brutal Cambodian dictator Pol Pot during the 1970s. But the water cure wasn’t merely used as a torture interrogation tactic during military conflicts. The infamous Marcos regime of the Philippines also implemented this technique through 1986. You remember the Marcos’? He was a despot, and his wife, Imelda, had a shit ton of shoes. David Byrne made an album all about her, and Fatboy Slim collaborated… I think Byrne even tried to stage a Broadway show about her… weird dude, man. Love the Talking Heads though, am I right?

5) Scaphism

This particular form of torture is a little bit older, more than the one to two-century time frame I was trying to stick to, but I’ll be damned if it wouldn’t still do the trick today. Scaphism, (also known as “The Boats”), comes from the Greek word skáphe, which means “hollowed out”. This method of torture was supposedly very popular in the Persian Empire, and it is a fuckin’ doozy. This is probably the vilest form of torture on this list, but I mean, come on- nothing ventured, nothing gained! Scaphism would go a little something like this: the person who was going to be punished was stripped naked and placed inside a hollow boat, somewhat like a canoe. Once inside, a second boat would be placed on top and bolted down. There were holes in these hollow floating contraptions for the occupant to stick their legs, arms, and head through. Once the intended victim was situated in their ship, the administering parties of said Scaphism would force-feed the bloke in the boat massive amounts of milk and honey. The captive would have this mixture, made of delicacies usually reserved for royalty, shoveled down their gullet till they were visibly nauseous, possibly vomiting, and certainly dreading the evacuation of their bowels that was just moments away. The captors would then use the milk and honey to cover the detainee’s arms, legs, feet, hands, head, face, eyes, ears — just anything out in the open. Once thoroughly coated, they would take the “2 boats, 1 guy” over to a moribund pond or a stagnant moat, and set it adrift. It wasn’t long before the wasps, mosquitoes, beetles, flies, etc. were swarming every exposed inch of the body protruding from that canoe. But let us recall that not only was the boat passenger slathered in bug’s delight; he had also been force-fed some very rich food that their body was most likely not used to digesting, even in small doses. At this point, the lone sailor would already be soiling the inside of the floating crypt, their own excrement beginning to pool under them and lap against their exposed torso. This would obviously attract more critters and insects. In addition, it provided an environment where worms and maggots could flourish, and then begin to start eating the body of the boat’s inhabitant from inside out and inside again. But these devotees of this style of torture from the Persian empire were so cold-blooded, that they would go back, each day, and force-feed/slather up the “Dead Man Floating” over and over again, ensuring that a faster and less painful death, perhaps from starvation or dehydration, was out of the question. So, the victim is stuck, drifting listlessly, in their own pile of shit, while wasps dug at their eyes and mouth, and maggots began to gnaw and claw into their putrid orifices, for an undetermined amount of time (It’s been stated that with this method of torture the receiving party could take up to and past two weeks to die.) At some point, the poor bastard would become unhinged and delirious, as gangrene and sepsis infected their body, and would eventually die from blood poisoning, dehydration, and basically being eaten alive from the inside out by the maggots that were enjoying the free buffet. In the immortal words of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five: “Ain’t a damn thing funny! You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey.”

There you have it, some of the more gruesome forms of torture that have been doing the rounds in the past couple of centuries. While Method Man’s preferred forms of torture, like cutting one’s kneecaps off and making them kneel in some staircase piss or cutting someone’s eyelids off and proceeding to feed them nothing but sleeping pills, didn’t make this list, it still acts as a fairly comprehensive guide to a few of the more modern ways we human beings inflict pain upon one another. For those who want even more explicit forms of savagery, you can google “face peeling zeta cartel”, but be warned, the videos you may find will ruin your week and wreak havoc on your perception of humanity, so gird your loins. WU-TANG!

Written By

Born & Raised in NYC. Sold My Soul to The Man and Served a Dime on Wall Street; Still Paying the Price. 80’s Pagan Baby. A Man of The People. Aspiring Thespian, Current Graffiti Writer, Grateful Penman. Have Fun - Will Travel. Be Easy and Free When You’re Drinking With Me, I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Everyday. WU-TANG!

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