Judicial corporal punishment (JCP) is the infliction of corporal punishment as a result of a sentence by a court of law. The punishments include caning, bastinado, birching, whipping, or strapping. The practice was once commonplace in many countries, but over time it has been abolished in most countries, although still remaining a form of legal punishment in some countries including a number of former British colonies and Muslim-majority states.

File:Taliban beating woman in public RAWA.jpg

Corporal punishment in Afghanistan during the days of the Taleban

Countries where JCP is used[edit | edit source]

File:Whipping of an incarcerated delinquent, Germany 17th century.jpg

Birching of Anabaptist martyr Ursula, Maastricht, 1570; engraving by Jan Luyken from Martyrs Mirror[1]

The Singaporean official punishment of caning became much discussed around the world in 1994[2] when an American teenager, Michael Fay, was sentenced to six strokes of the cane for vandalism.[3] Like Singapore, Malaysia also has corporal punishment.

Other former British colonies with judicial caning currently on their statute books include Barbados,[4] Botswana,[5] Brunei,[6] Swaziland,[7] Tonga,[8] Trinidad and Tobago,[9] and Zimbabwe.[10]

Many Muslim-majority countries use judicial corporal punishment, such as United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia,[11] Iran,[12] northern Nigeria,[13] Sudan[14] and Yemen,[15] employ judicial whipping or caning for a range of offences. In Indonesia (Aceh province only) it has recently been introduced for the first time.[16] In April 2020, the Saudi Supreme Court abolished the flogging punishment from its court system. [17][18]

Full list of countries[edit | edit source]

File:Map of judicial corporal punishment.svg


A list of 29 countries that use lawful, official JCP today is as follows:

  1. Template:Flag (men and women – whip or cane, no target specified; public or private).[19][20] See Judicial corporal punishment in Afghanistan
  2. Template:Flag (boys only – details unclear)[21][22]
  3. Template:Flag (men – cat on bare back; boys – cane on bare buttocks; in private)[23][24]
  4. Template:Flag (boys only – details unclear)[4]
  5. Template:Flag (males aged 14 to 40 – cane on bare buttocks; in private)[25][26]
  6. Template:Flag (men and boys – cane on bare buttocks; in private)[6][27][28] See Caning in Brunei.
  7. Template:Flag (boys under 16 – details unclear)[29]
  8. Template:Flag (men and women – traditional indigenous justice)[30]
  9. Template:Flag, Aceh Special Region only (men and women – cane on clothed back; in public)[16][31]
  10. Template:Flag (men, women, boys, girls – whip or strap, no target specified; public or private)[12] In Iran, they also follow eye for an eye punishment. [32]
  11. Template:Flag (men and boys – details unclear)[33]
  12. Template:Flag (Criminal law: men and boys – cane on bare buttocks; in private).[34] See Caning in Malaysia. *(Sharia law, Muslims only: men and women – cane on clothed back; in private)[35][36]
  13. Template:Flag (men and women – details unclear)[37]
  14. Template:Flag (men, women – cane on clothed buttocks or whip on bare back; in public or private.[13][38][39][40]
  15. Template:Flag (men and boys – cane or strap on clothed buttocks; public or private)[41]
  16. Template:Flag (men and women – details unclear; in private)[42]
  17. Template:Flag (boys and men – details unclear)[43][44]
  18. Template:Flag (boys only – cane on bare buttocks)[45]
  19. Template:Flag (boys only – cane or birch on bare buttocks)[46]
  20. Template:Flag (men and boys – cane on bare buttocks; in private). See Caning in Singapore.
  21. Template:Flag (men and women – cane on clothed buttocks)[47]
  22. Template:Flag (men, women, boys, girls – whip on clothed back)[14]
  23. Template:Flag (boys only – cane on bare buttocks)[7]
  24. Template:Flag (men and boys – cane on bare buttocks; in private)[48]
  25. Template:Flag (men – cat on bare buttocks; boys – birch or cat on bare buttocks)[8]
  26. Template:Flag (men only – cat on bare back or birch on bare buttocks; in private)[49]
  27. Template:Flag (details unclear)[50]
  28. Template:Flag (Muslim men – whip on bare back; Muslim women – whip on clothed back; in private). No longer applied to non-Muslims.[51]
  29. Template:Flag (details unclear)[15]

The above list does not include countries where a "blind eye" is sometimes turned to unofficial JCP by local tribes, authorities, etc. including Bangladesh,[52] India and Colombia.[53]

History by country[edit | edit source]

Egypt[edit | edit source]

Ancient Egyptians practiced rhinectomy, punishing some offenses by cutting off the criminal's nose. Such criminals were often exiled to locations in Sinai, such as Tjaru and Rhinocorura, whose own name was Greek for "denosed".

Jersey[edit | edit source]

The last birching sentence in Jersey was carried out in 1966. Birching was abandoned as a policy in 1969 but lingered on the statute books. Obsolete references to corporal punishment were removed from remaining statutes by the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No. 2) (Jersey) Law 2007[54]

Guernsey[edit | edit source]

The last birching sentence was carried out in 1968. The Corporal Punishment (Guernsey) Law, 1957 was finally repealed by the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2006[55]

Isle of Man[edit | edit source]

Judicial birching was abolished in the Isle of Man in 2000 following the judgment in Tyrer v. UK by the European Court of Human Rights.[56] The last birching took place in January 1976; the last caning, of a 13-year-old boy convicted of robbing another child of 10p, was the last recorded juvenile case in May 1971.[57]

Netherlands[edit | edit source]

In 1854 judicial corporal punishment was abolished in the Netherlands with the exception of whipping. Whipping itself was abolished in 1870.

In the Wetboek van Strafrecht, article 9, this kind of punishment is not listed as primary or secondary punishment. Mainly because of human rights and/or human dignity, corporal punishment has been abolished and does not exist at this time.

South Africa[edit | edit source]

The Constitutional Court decided in 1995 in the case of S v Williams and Others that caning of juveniles was unconstitutional. Although the ruling in S v Williams was limited to the corporal punishment of males under the age of 21, Justice Langa mentioned in dicta that there was a consensus that corporal punishment of adults was also unconstitutional.[58]

The Abolition of Corporal Punishment Act, 1997 abolished judicial corporal punishment.[59][60]

United Kingdom[edit | edit source]

In the United Kingdom, JCP generally was abolished in 1948;[61] however, it persisted in prisons as a punishment for prisoners committing serious assaults on prison staff (ordered by prison's visiting justices) until it was abolished by section 65 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967.[62] The last ever prison flogging happened in 1962.[63][64]

United States[edit | edit source]

File:Women's prison punishment (early modern era).jpg

Judicial corporal punishment in a women's prison, USA (ca. 1890)

American colonies judicially punished in a variety of forms, including whipping, stocks, the pillory and the ducking stool.[65] In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, whipping posts were considered indispensable in American and English towns.[66] Starting in 1776, Gen. George Washington strongly advocated and utilized JCP in the Continental Army, with due process protection, obtaining in 1776 authority from the Continental Congress to impose 100 lashes, more than the previous limit of 39.[67] In his 1778 Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments, Thomas Jefferson provided up to 15 lashes for individuals pretending to witchcraft or prophecy, at the jury's discretion; castration for men guilty of rape, polygamy or sodomy, and a minimum half-inch hole bored in the nose cartilage of women convicted of those sex crimes.[68] In 1781, Washington requested legal authority from the Continental Congress to impose up to 500 lashes, as there was still a punishment gap between 100 lashes and the death penalty.[69] The Founders believed whipping and other forms of corporal punishment effectively promoted pro-social and discouraged anti-social behavior. Two later presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, advocated judicial corporal punishment as punishment for wife-beating.[70]

In the United States, judicial flogging was last used in 1952 in Delaware when a wife beater got 20 lashes. In Delaware, the criminal code permitted floggings to occur until 1972.[71][72][73] One of the major objections to judicial corporal punishment in the United States was that it was unpleasant to administer.{{citation needed|date=April 2018}

Other countries[edit | edit source]

JCP was removed from the statute book in Canada in 1972,[74] in India in the 1950sTemplate:Cn, in New Zealand in 1941,[75] and in Australia at various times in the 20th century according to State.[76]

It has been abolished in recent decades in Hong Kong,[77] Jamaica,[78] Kenya,[79] Sri LankaTemplate:Cn, and Zambia.[80]

Other countries that were neither former British territories nor Islamic states that have used JCP in the more distant past include China,[81] Germany,[82] South Korea,[83] Sweden[84] and Vietnam.[85]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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  34. Pudu Prison exhibition, Kuala Lumpur, 1998.
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  36. Religious corporal punishment in Malaysia, World Corporal Punishment Research.
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  38. Hamid, Ruhi. "Video clips from 'Inside a Sharia Court'", This World, BBC Two, London, 1 October 2007.
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  85. "La loi de l'époque" at Les images d'autrefois du Vietnam. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
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