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Disembowelment as torture
If performed on a living creature, it is fatal in all cases. It has historically been used as a severe form of capital punishment. The last organs to be removed were, invariably, the heart and lungs, so as to keep the condemned alive (and in pain) as long as possible.
- In England, the punishment of being "hanged, drawn and quartered" was typically used for men convicted of high treason. This referred to the practice of drawing a man by a hurdle (similar to a fence) through the streets, removing him from the hurdle and hanging him from the neck (but removing him before death), disemboweling him slowly on a wooden block by slitting open his abdomen, removing his entrails and his other organs, and then decapitating him and dividing the body into four pieces. The man's head and quarters would often be part boiled and displayed as a warning to others. As part of the disemboweling, the man was also typically castrated and his genitals and entrails would be burned. Women who were accused of high treason were, for modesty's sake, instead burned alive. On the Isle of Man this "mercy" was denied to them and women convicted of treason were also hanged, drawn and quartered.
- In the Netherlands and Belgium the vierendelen (literally "to divide in four"), a practice where the arms and legs were tied to horses and the abdomen was sliced open. This punishment was exclusively for regicide.
- In Japan, disembowelment played a part as a method of execution or of the ritualized suicide by a samurai. In killing themselves by this method, they were deemed to be free from the dishonor resulting from their crimes. The most common form of disembowelment was referred to in Japanese as seppuku (or, colloquially, hara-kiri), literally "stomach cutting," involving two cuts across the abdomen, sometimes followed by pulling out one's own viscera. The act of beheading, by a second called a kaishaku-nin, was added to this ritual suicide in later times in order to shorten the suffering of the samurai or leader, an attempt at rendering the ritual more humane. The commission of a crime or dishonourable act was only one of many reasons for the performance of seppuku.
Cases of transanal evisceration of children whilst sitting over uncovered swimming pool drains have been reported. Notable cases include Valerie Lakey and Abigail Taylor. In both of these cases, the victims were left with short bowel syndrome and required feeding by total parenteral nutrition.
The process of embalming sometimes includes removing the internal organs.
A notable example of this is mummification, especially as practised by the ancient Egyptians. It entailed removal of the internal organs prior to the preservation of the remainder of the body. The organs removed were embalmed, stored in canopic jars, and placed in the tomb with the body.
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