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Template:Corporal punishment

Foot whipping, variously known as bastinado, falanga (phalanga), and falaka (falaqa), is a form of corporal punishment whereby the soles of the feet are beaten with an object such as a cane or rod, a club, a piece of wood, a stout leather bullwhip, or a flexible bat of heavy rubber. It is also sometimes favoured as a form of torture because, although extremely painful, it leaves few physical marks, though evidence can be detected via ultrasound technology.[citation needed]

The prisoner may be immobilised before application of the beating by tying, securing the feet in stocks, locking the legs into an elevated position, or hanging upside-down. The Persian term falaka referred to a wooden plank which was used to secure the feet prior to beating.

Foot whipping is effective due to the clustering of nerve endings in the feet and the structure of the foot, with its numerous small bones and tendons. The wounds inflicted are particularly painful and take a long time to heal, rendering it a particularly brutal and cruel punishment.

This punishment has, at various times, been used in China, as well as the Middle East. It was used throughout the Ottoman Empire.

In history

In modern times

In popular culture

  • In act V, scene I of the Shakespearean comedy As You Like It, Touchstone threatens William with the line: "I will deal in poison with thee, or in bastinado, or in steel..."
  • In act I, scene X of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail ("The Abduction from the Seraglio"), Osmin threatens Belmonte and Pedrillo with bastinado: "Sonst soll die Bastonade Euch gleich zu Diensten steh'n."
  • In act I, scene XIX of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute, Sarastro orders Monostatos to be punished with 77 blows on the soles of his feet: "He! gebt dem Ehrenmann sogleich/nur sieben und siebenzig Sohlenstreich'."
  • Foot-whipping scenes were shown in the 1978 film Midnight Express where the main protagonist is punished in this manner in a Turkish prison.
  • Foot whipping is a form of punishment for women in Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale.
  • In The Godfather, Don Corleone's son, Sonny, has three men "thoroughly bastinadoed" by his bodyguards.
  • In the 1994 film Quiz Show, Charles van Doren - imagining what tortures the Senate hearing might hold - suggests foot-whipping, along with the rack and the iron maiden.
  • In the Criminal Minds episode "Revelations," Dr. Spencer Reid has the sole of his foot beaten as a form of punishment for perceived sins.
  • In the TV series Bones, Dr Brennan notes that Agent Booth had been subjected to beatings on the bottom of his feet as a prisoner of war.
  • In the TV series Spooks, a blown agent is subjected to the beating of his feet, consequently suffering a brain haemorrhage (2002).
  • In The Scorpion Signal, a Quiller book by Adam Hall, falanga is said to have been used by Soviet counter-intelligence on the British agent Shapiro, causing "irreversible ischemic changes".
  • In the Film Ninja Assassin One of the students of the ninja clan was brutally whipped on the soles of his feet for making sounds when walking.
  • On the 1987 album "Jackamo" by industrial artist Little Annie Anxiety Bandez, track two is titled "Bastinado."


  1. E/CN.4/1997/7 Fifty-third session, Item 8(a) of the provisional agenda UN Doc., 10 January 1997
  2. "An Analysis of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Legal Cases, 1998-2006".
  3. Sibongile Sukati, "'Sipakatane' for rowdy foreigners", Times of Swaziland, Mbabane, 9 September 2010.

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