Water torture

Water torture

Water torture is torture using water, which can take several forms. Because no external marks are left on victims of water torture, it has been a favoured method of torture in various countries and political regimes.

The torture has notably been used against political prisoners.

Forced ingestion

In this form of water torture, water is forced down the throat and into the stomach. This happens repeatedly until osmosis causes the cells to explodeFact|date=May 2008. It was used as a legal torture and execution method by the courts in France in the 17th and 18th century, was employed against Americans and Chinese during World War II by the Japanese, and was also used against Filipinos by American Forces during the Philippine-American War. The Human Rights Watch organization reports that in the 2000s, security forces in Uganda sometimes forced a detainee to lie face up under an open water spigot. [Human Rights Watch, [http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/04/27/china10549.htm#UGANDA Human Rights News: Torture Worldwide] ]

Water intoxication can result from drinking too much water, and this has caused some fatalities over the years in fraternities during initiation week. For example, a person was hazed to death by Chi Tau of Chico State in 2005 via the forcing of pushups and the drinking of water from a bottle. [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5012154]

Terror of drowning

Waterboarding refers to a technique involving water poured over the face or head of the subject, in order to evoke the instinctive fear of drowning.


In many cases people had very cold water poured over them, to make a whipping more painful. The water also made it easier to pierce the skin.

Dripping water

What is called the "Chinese water torture" was a torture described by Hippolytus de Marsiliis in the 16th century that was supposed to drive its victim insane with the stress of water dripping on a part of the forehead for a very long time. It may also be characterized by the inconsistent pattern of water drips. Supposedly, the desire for the human brain to make a pattern of the timing between the drops will also eventually cause insanity to set in.


In this form of torture used as a Trial by ordeal, a victim would be repeatedly immersed in water, then pulled out and asked to confess to a crime. Those who failed to confess would be immersed again.Also, it was used to punish women who argued with their husbands in the American colonies.


Other forms of water torture:
* The Falun Gong have accused the Chinese government of using "water dungeons" on jailed practitioners. A water dungeon is simply a pool of filthy water in which a caged detainee is immersed neck-deep for days or weeks at a time. After a few days in a water dungeon the victim will be covered in festering sores and will not be able to move most major muscles for 2 to 3 weeks. [ [http://www.faluninfo.net/torturemethods2/water-dungeon/ faluninfo.net] article "Water dungeon"]
*Another instance of a "water dungeon" was the so-called "Waterhuis" in the Amsterdam Rasphuis. Criminals that were condemned to hard labor had to saw wood in this prison in the 17th century. If they were recalcitrant they were placed in a cellar that quickly filled with water after a sluice was opened. However, they were handed a pump that enabled them to keep from drowning, provided they pumped energetically and continuously. Interestingly, this method of punishment was considered quite humane at the time. The Rasphuis prison was a popular tourist attraction for Englishmen doing the Grand Tour. The description of the dungeon therefore comes mainly to us from travelogues. [There are a number of modern sources, like Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches, pp. 17-20. However, those must rely on older sources, like Edward Browne, A Journey from Norwich to Colen in Germany (1668) and Robert Sears, Scenes and Sketches in Continental Europe (1847), p.540]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • water torture — noun Torture using water, esp dripping it slowly onto the victim s forehead • • • Main Entry: ↑water …   Useful english dictionary

  • water torture — n. a form of torture in which water is caused to drip slowly onto the forehead of the immobilized victim * * * …   Universalium

  • water torture — n. a form of torture in which water is caused to drip slowly onto the forehead of the immobilized victim …   English World dictionary

  • water torture — /ˈwɔtə tɔtʃə/ (say wawtuh tawchuh) noun → Chinese water torture …   Australian English dictionary

  • water torture — noun a form of torture in which the victim is exposed to the incessant dripping of water on the head or to the sound of dripping …   English new terms dictionary

  • Chinese water torture — at Sing Sing Prison circa 1860 …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese Water Torture Cell — Houdini performing the Chinese Water Torture Cell The Chinese Water Torture Cell is a predicament escape made famous by Hungarian American magician Harry Houdini. The illusion consists of three parts: first, the magician s feet are locked in… …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese water torture — n. WATER TORTURE * * * …   Universalium

  • Chinese water torture — n. WATER TORTURE …   English World dictionary

  • Chinese water torture — noun 1. a form of torture aimed to drive the victim insane by dripping water on the forehead. 2. a form of torture in which water drops onto a piece of cloth covering the victim s face, making it progressively more difficult to breathe as the… …   Australian English dictionary