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by Sherrie D. Larch 2 months ago in capital punishment
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What is the meaning of torture? We at times use this word very lightly. The new generation’s music tortures our ears, or the final exam was torture, or a dozen more little sayings; making the word folksy sounding, with a bit of humor thrown in. But torture, real torture, is not a folksy or a humorous experience for those that are its victims, they suffer psychologically and physically from both present and future side effects of its use. Torture’s use is also not reliable because a victim may say anything to make the pain, either physical or psychological, go away. Our politicians and leaders try to convince us that if it is used (and we all know it is), that it is harmless, and the information obtained is very reliable and important to national security.

Torture is physical or mental pain inflicted to get a person to confess, convert to another person’s thinking (for political or religious purposes), to reveal hidden information, do another person’s bidding, or just to intimidate a group of people (usually an ethnic or political minority). There are many forms of torture, both psychological and physical, from the past and the present. Psychological torture has one goal, to inflict such emotional upset that the victim will do, say or confess to whatever is asked. Techniques that are used are threats (of bodily harm of the victim or the victim’s loved ones), degradation, isolation, sleep deprivation, and rape (which is both a psychological and physical form of torture). Physical torture relies on pain to get what is wanted. Some of the techniques used are, mutilation (which can include burning, flaying, cutting, and even amputations of toes, fingers, and even whole limbs), drowning, starvation and dehydration, forced feeding, pulling and crushing of the body, and many more nightmarish methods.

Throughout history, torture has been a common human tool. Torture has been used in conflicts between clans and tribes to intimidate each other in the fight over land area and hunting grounds. Leaders throughout history have tortured their people for entertainment and sport, as a spectacle to show their control and power. Rival countries use it during wars to obtain secret information from the enemy, especially on prisoners of war. Religion has used torture throughout history for conversion and confession, during the many Crusades and Inquisitions, to control and eliminate minority faiths, and new viewpoints that threatened the norm. Even the criminal justice systems throughout history and throughout the world, have used torture techniques to obtain information and confessions from suspects and even victims (though most information obtained by torture is not reliable). The victims just want the pain, whether mental or physical, to go away, and will say or confess to anything that the torturer wants them to. Many torture victims do not survive, either dying from the aftermath of torture or being killed after the fact. Surviving victims of torture have both physical and mental scars. Post-traumatic stress syndrome and suicide is very common in those that have survived these inhuman procedures, not to mention the physical aftermaths, which can cause permanent disability and long lasting health problems.

Defining torture legally is very difficult, each country and culture views it differently. The United Nations Convention on Torture (proposed in 1984, in force by 1987, ratified by the USA in 1994) states: 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, or 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 official or other person acting in an official capacity. “It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions” (

Some countries and individuals think torture must be stopped all together, viewing it as an important human rights issue. Other countries and individuals view it as a necessary evil, which can benefit a larger goal, and is worth sacrificing the well-being of the few to save the many. But whatever the viewpoint, the word torture seems to be hard to define, and to understand what its true impacted on the society it is being used by. It may keep the society’s people in control through the fear it promotes, and it may at times get factual information, though very rare. But what are the human costs and moral questions? Should a country use it on its own citizens or enemies? These questions should be asked and the answer is torture needs to be listed as a human rights violation. I personally think that torture is morally wrong and its results extremely questionable and should be stopped.

capital punishment

About the author

Sherrie D. Larch

I am a writer, blogger, photographer, painter (art), digital abstract artist, designer, in-home caregiver, in Northern California.

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