mutilation
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Mutilation or maiming (from the Latin: ''mutilus'') refers to severe damage to the body that has a ruinous effect on an individual's
quality of life Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Health Organization as "an individual's perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards ...
. It can also refer to alterations that render something inferior, ugly, dysfunctional, or imperfect. In modern times, the term has an overwhelmingly negative
connotation A connotation is a commonly understood cultural or emotional Emotions are mental states brought on by neurophysiology, neurophysiological changes, variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioral responses, and a degree of pleas ...
.


Terminology

In 2019, Michael H. Stone, Gary Brucato, and Ann Burgess proposed formal criteria by which "mutilation" might be systematically distinguished from the act of "
dismemberment Dismemberment is the act of cutting, ripping, tearing, pulling, wrenching or otherwise disconnecting the limbs from a living or dead being. It has been practiced upon human beings as a form of capital punishment, especially in connection with ...
," as these terms are commonly used interchangeably. They suggested that dismemberment involves "the entire removal, by any means, of a large section of the body of a living or dead person, specifically, the head (also termed decapitation), arms, hands, torso, pelvic area, legs, or feet." Mutilation, by contrast, involves "the removal or irreparable disfigurement, by any means, of some smaller portion of one of those larger sections of a living or dead person. The latter would include
castration Castration is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which an individual loses use of the testicles: the male gonad. Surgical castration is bilateral orchiectomy (excision of both testicles), while chemical castration uses phar ...
(removal of the
testicles A testicle or testis (plural testes) is the male reproductive gland or gonad in all bilaterians, including humans. It is Homology (biology), homologous to the female ovary. The functions of the testes are to produce both sperm and androgens, pr ...
), evisceration (removal of the internal organs), and flaying (removal of the
skin Skin is the layer of usually soft, flexible outer tissue covering the body of a vertebrate animal, with three main functions: protection, regulation, and sensation. Other cuticle, animal coverings, such as the arthropod exoskeleton, have diffe ...
)." According to these parameters, removing a whole hand would constitute dismemberment, while removing or damaging a finger would be mutilation; decapitation of a full head would be dismemberment, while removing or damaging a part of the face would be mutilation; and removing a whole torso would be dismemberment, while removing or damaging a breast or the organs contained within the torso would be mutilation.


Usage

Some ethnic groups practice ritual mutilation, e.g.
scarification Scarification involves scratching, etching, burning/Human branding, branding, or superficially cutting designs, pictures, or words into the skin as a permanent body modification or body art. The body modification can take roughly 6–12 months t ...
,
burn A burn is an injury to skin, or other tissues, caused by heat, cold, electricity, chemicals, friction, or ultraviolet radiation (like sunburn). Most burns are due to heat from hot liquids (called scalding), solids, or fire. Burns occur mainl ...
ing,
flagellation Flagellation (Latin , 'whip'), flogging or whipping is the act of beating the human body with special implements such as whips, Birching, rods, Switch (rod), switches, the cat o' nine tails, the sjambok, the knout, etc. Typically, flogging ...
,
tattoo A tattoo is a form of body modification made by inserting tattoo ink, dyes, and/or pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to form a design. Tattoo artists create these designs using several Process of tatt ...
ing, or wheeling, as part of a
rite of passage A rite of passage is a ceremony or ritual of the passage which occurs when an individual leaves one group to enter another. It involves a significant change of social status, status in society. In cultural anthropology the term is the Anglicisat ...
. In some cases, the term may apply to treatment of dead bodies, such as soldiers mutilated after they have been killed by an enemy.
Castration Castration is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which an individual loses use of the testicles: the male gonad. Surgical castration is bilateral orchiectomy (excision of both testicles), while chemical castration uses phar ...
is also a form of mutilation. The traditional Chinese practices of ''língchí'' and
foot binding Foot binding, or footbinding, was the Chinese custom of breaking and tightly binding the feet of young girls in order to change their shape and size. Feet altered by footbinding were known as lotus feet, and the shoes made for these feet were kno ...
are forms of mutilation. One form of mutilation that has captured the imagination of Westerners is the "long-neck" people, a sub-group of the Karen known as the Padaung where women wear brass rings around their neck. The act of tattooing is also considered a form of self-mutilation according to some cultural traditions, such as within Christianity. A joint statement released by the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization whose stated purposes are to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be ...
and numerous other international bodies opposes female genital mutilation/cutting as a form of mutilation. Historically,
tattoos A tattoo is a form of body modification made by inserting tattoo ink, dyes, and/or pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to form a design. Tattoo artists create these designs using several Process of tatt ...
,
circumcision Circumcision is a procedure that removes the foreskin from the human penis. In the most common form of the operation, the foreskin is extended with forceps, then a circumcision device may be placed, after which the foreskin is excised. Top ...
, and body piercings have also been considered mutilation by some cultures, although use of the term "mutilation" for these things is significantly less accepted than FGM and is often considered erroneous and offensive. Sex-reassignment surgery has been called "mutilation" by critics; use of the term to describe sex reassignment surgery is often considered heavily provocative and insulting by those who are
transgender A transgender (often abbreviated as trans) person is someone whose gender identity or gender expression does not correspond with their sex assignment, sex assigned at birth. Many transgender people experience gender dysphoria, dysphoria, which ...
.


Punishment

''Maiming'', or mutilation which involves the loss of, or incapacity to use, a bodily member, is and has been practiced by many societies with various cultural and religious significance, and is also a customary form of physical punishment, especially applied on the principle of an
eye for an eye "An eye for an eye" ( hbo, עַיִן תַּחַת עַיִן, ) is a commandment found in the Book of Exodus 21:23–27 expressing the principle of reciprocal justice measure for measure. The principle exists also in Babylonian law. In Roman c ...
. The
Araucanian The Mapuche ( (Mapuche & Spanish: )) are a group of Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina, including parts of Patagonia. The collective term refers to a wide-ranging ethnicit ...
warrior Galvarino suffered this punishment as a prisoner during the Spanish
conquest of Chile The Conquest of Chile is a period in Chilean historiography that starts with the arrival of Pedro de Valdivia to Chile in 1541 and ends with the death of Martín García Óñez de Loyola in the Battle of Curalaba in 1598, and the destruction of th ...
. Maiming has often been a criminal offense; the old law term for a special case of maiming of persons was mayhem, an Anglo- French variant form of the word. Maiming of animals by others than their owners is a particular form of the offense generally grouped as malicious damage. For the purpose of the law as to this offense animals are divided into cattle, which includes pigs and
equid Equidae (sometimes known as the horse family) is the Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic Family (biology), family of horses and related animals, including the extant horses, donkeys, asses, and zebra, zebras, and many other species known only from foss ...
s, and other animals which are either subjects of larceny at common
law Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. ...
or are usually kept in confinement or for domestic purposes. In Britain under the Malicious Damage Act 1861 the punishment for maiming of cattle was three to fourteen years' penal servitude; malicious injury to other animals was a misdemeanor punishable on summary conviction. For a second offense the penalty was imprisonment with hard labor for over twelve months. Today maiming of animals falls under the Cruelty to Animals Acts, while maiming by others is additionally treated as criminal damage.


Mutilation as human punishment

In times when even judicial physical punishment was still commonly allowed to cause not only intense pain and
public humiliation Public humiliation or public shaming is a form of punishment whose main feature is dishonoring or disgracing a person, usually an offender or a prisoner, especially in a public place. It was regularly used as a form of judicially sanctioned puni ...
during the administration but also to inflict permanent physical damage, or even deliberately intended to mark the criminal for life by docking or branding, one of the common anatomical target areas not normally under permanent cover of clothing (so particularly merciless in the long term) were the ear(s). In England, for example, various pamphleteers attacking the religious views of the Anglican episcopacy under
William Laud William Laud (; 7 October 1573 – 10 January 1645) was a bishop in the Church of England. Appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by Charles I of England, Charles I in 1633, Laud was a key advocate of Caroline era#Religion, Charles I's religious re ...
, the
Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a religious institution. In Christianity, bishops are normally resp ...
, had their ears cut off for those writings: in 1630 Alexander Leighton and in 1637 still other
Puritans The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Catholic Church, Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had not been fully reformed and should become m ...
,
John Bastwick John Bastwick (1593–1654) was an English Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Catholic Church, Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of En ...
, Henry Burton, and
William Prynne William Prynne (1600 – 24 October 1669), an English lawyer, voluble author, polemicist and political figure, was a prominent Puritan opponent of church policy under William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury (1633–1645). His views were Presbyter ...
. In Scotland one of the
Covenanter Covenanters ( gd, Cùmhnantaich) were members of a 17th-century Kingdom of Scotland, Scottish religious and political movement, who supported a Presbyterian polity, Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and the primacy of its leaders in religious af ...
s, James Gavin of Douglas, Lanarkshire, had his ears cut off for refusing to renounce his religious faith. In Japan, Gonsalo Garcia and his companions were similarly punished. Notably in various jurisdictions of the
Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies, the Thirteen American Colonies, or later as the United Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British Colony, colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. Fo ...
, even relatively minor crimes, such as hog stealing, were punishable by having one's ears nailed to the
pillory The pillory is a device made of a wooden or metal framework erected on a post, with holes for securing the head and hands, formerly used for punishment by public humiliation and often further physical abuse. The pillory is related to the stocks ...
and slit loose, or even cropped, a
counterfeit To counterfeit means to imitate something authentic, with the intent to steal, destroy, or replace the original, for use in illegal transactions, or otherwise to deceive individuals into believing that the fake is of equal or greater value tha ...
er would be branded on top (for that crime, considered lèse-majesté, the older mirror punishment was boiling in oil), which was an example of western mutilation.
Independence Independence is a condition of a person, nation, country, or Sovereign state, state in which residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory. The opposite of independ ...
did not render American justice any less brutal. For example, in the future state of Tennessee, an example of harsh 'frontier law' under the 1780 Cumberland Compact took place in 1793 when Judge John McNairy sentenced Nashville's first horse thief, John McKain Jr., to be fastened to a wooden stock one hour for 39 lashes, have his ears cut off and cheeks branded with the letters "H" and "T". Tongue cutting is also a form of mutilation as this leads to bleeding to death in most cases with choking in the lungs. Nebahne Yohannes, an unsuccessful claimant to the Ethiopian imperial throne who had his ears and nose cut off, yet was then freed. This form of mutilation against unsuccessful claimants to thrones has been in use in middle-eastern regions for thousands of years. To qualify as a king, formerly, one had to exemplify perfection. Obvious physical deformities such as missing noses, ears, or lips, are thereby sufficient disqualifications. The victim in these cases is typically freed alive to act (''a'') as an example to others, and (''b'') as no longer a threat.


See also

*
Blinding (punishment) Blinding is a type of physical punishment which results in complete or nearly complete loss of vision. It was used as an act of revenge and torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering on a person for reasons ...
* Cattle mutilation *
Decapitation Decapitation or beheading is the total separation of the head from the body. Such an injury is invariably fatal to humans and most other animals, since it deprives the brain of oxygenated blood, while all other organs are deprived of the au ...
* Overview of discretionary invasive procedures on animals *
Dismemberment Dismemberment is the act of cutting, ripping, tearing, pulling, wrenching or otherwise disconnecting the limbs from a living or dead being. It has been practiced upon human beings as a form of capital punishment, especially in connection with ...


References

{{Authority control Corporal punishments Violence