culture Real, Horrifying Punishments in Other Countries  

Mike Rothschild
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Despite many countries abandoning capital punishment, the death penalty is still practiced around the world. And while the US has debated the constitutionality of lethal injection, other countries have no such scruples. Death by stoning, hanging, and even crucifixion is practiced in Middle Eastern countries, and in areas controlled by militant groups like ISIS (which are not necessarily accepted Sharia law punishments, which is a common misconception).

Even when offenders aren't being killed in many of these countries with the death penalty, they are punished harshly in ways that can't be considered anything other than cruel and unusual. Drug offenders and vandals are caned in Singapore, people are locked away in labor camps in North Korea, and criminals who commit petty theft have their hands chopped off in Iran and Saudi Arabia. These punishments are real—and are sometimes even carried out on tourists.

Here are some of the most real, terrible punishments still carried out in countries around the world.

Hard Labor for Stealing a Poster, North Korea


Hard Labor for Stealing a Post... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Real, Horrifying Punishments in Other Countries
Photo:  YouTubeFair Use

North Korea has among the most restrictive and punitiive legal systems in the world. Countless citizens languish in labor camps for minor offenses, or even for simply being related to a criminal. A few foreigners have been given labor sentences as well. The most recent was American student Otto Warmbier, given 15 years for the "crime" of stealing a propaganda poster.

Fortunately, foreigners usually don't serve these harsh sentences, and are held for several months in a hotel before being "rescued" by a foreign dignitary.

Forced Amputation, Extremist-Controlled Middle Eastern Countries


Forced Amputation, Extremist-C... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Real, Horrifying Punishments in Other Countries
Photo: Wrote/flickr/CC-BY 2.0
With no 8th Amendment to restrain them, a number of countries practice amputation as a punishment. In parts of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria officials have chopped right hands off at the wrist as punishment for theft—with repeat offenders often losing their other hand, or even their legs.

 
Some countries go even father, with thieves or suspected enemies of Islam having their right hand and left foot cut off in a horrifying practice known as cross amputation. Islamist militant groups like Boko Haram and ISIS have also been known to use amputation as a punishment in areas they've in which they've taken control.


Eye-Gouging, Saudia Arabia


Eye-Gouging, Saudia Arabia is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Real, Horrifying Punishments in Other Countries
Photo: Rembrandt/"The Blinding of Samson" / Wikipedia/Public Domain
Saudi Arabia has sentenced at least three people, and likely more, to the Biblical punishment of having an eye put out. One such example took place in 2005, after an Indian man working in the country was involved in a brawl where a man's eye was gouged out. The Indian man, in turn, was sentenced to have his eye put out. The man was eventually pardoned, and it's not clear if any of the eye gougings ever actually took place.

Caning, Singapore


Caning, Singapore is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Real, Horrifying Punishments in Other Countries
Photo: Wikipedia/Public Domain

Caning as a form of corporal punishment has been legal in Singapore since the late 19th century, when it was colonized by England. Most of the developed world has made illegal physical brutality in punishment, Singapore still has caning on its books—and uses it.

Thousands of young men in Singapore have been sentenced to lashes on the buttocks with a cane, and the vast majority of them have been carried out. In fact, Singapore's legislature has increased the number of lashes that can be given, and those who wield the cane are specially trained in how to use it and how fast they can swing it. The punishment is carried out in an official manner, with medical treatment provided, and certain areas are shielded with protective pads to prevent injury.

Caning is down, however. From a high of over 6,400 in 2007, only about 2,500 canings were carried out in 2012. Also, while even minor vandalism is often punished with caning, the importation of chewing gum is NOT a caning offense, contrary to urban legend.