Bastinado

Foot whipping or bastinado is a form of corporal punishment in which the soles of a person’s bare feet are repetitively beaten with an implement.

It is also referred to as foot/feet caning, sole caning, sole beating or foot bottom caning. The particular Mid East method is called falaka, also spelled falaqa, falanga or phalanga. German terms are Bastonade and in former centuries Sohlenstreich (sole-striking), also colloquially paraphrased with Schläge/Hiebe/”fünfzig” auf die Fußsohlen (strokes/”fifty” onto the soles of the feet).

The use of bastinado is documented from the year 960 in China, in Europe from 1537. It is to be conceded, that foot whipping has been commonly practiced since ancient times, as it is referenced in the bible in multiple passages (Prov. 22:15; Lev. 19:20; Deut. 22:18).

Foot whipping is associated mostly with middle and far eastern nations, where it is occasionally executed in public, therefore covered by reports and photographs. However different forms of bastinado were also a conventional method in western countries to enforce discipline in prisons, reformatories, boarding schools and similar institutions at times when a right to use corporal punishment existed. For instance Bastonade was as a traditional form of punishment especially in German territories. It was commonly practiced in prisons as well as reform schools and also extensively employed during the Nazi-Regime as disciplinary measure.

For being generally implemented closed off from the public in western civilizations and as it appears outwardly unspectacular compared to publicly better known practices such as flagellation and caning that were frequently employed as judicial corporal punishment for serious offenses, foot whipping, which merely served for disciplinary purposes to sanction misconduct or insubordination within prisons and similar institutions, is mostly disregarded in the context of corporal punishment.

Sole caning is still a common form of disciplinary corporal punishment of prisoners in different countries as it is eminently painful while usually no severe or lasting injuries are caused. It is also frequently used for political torture as physical evidence mostly remains undetectable after a relatively short period of recuperation and it can therefore be exerted repetitively over extended periods of time.