“I was flogged until I was dead, I may say, to the world. When I came to my recollection, I found myself smothered in my own gore”
– William Green, Port Arthur convict
Corporal punishment of the guilty as a result of breaking the law, is one of the many gruelling aspects in the history of the world. Unlike the many other cruel and indescribable medieval forms of torture, and other forms of unimaginable torture methods from all over the world, corporal punishment in the form of lashings lasted in Port Arthur prison life until the 1840’s.
The whip itself consisted of a handle and 9 straps of rope or leather hanging off one end, of which were knotted, sometimes more than once. With each stroke, the knots broke the skin, ripping flesh off with every strike. A medical officer stood by to make sure the procedure was done correctly and to ensure that the prisoner did not reach a point where they were close to death.
Modern corporal punishment was a cruel and demeaning way to publicly humiliate an individual. Despite some prisoners using it as an opportunity to show their ultimate strength and prowess, there’s no doubt that in a world where only the toughest survive, sometimes an individual has to muster up everything within them and use it to fight another day, floggings or no floggings.
“Next to homosexual rape, flogging was the most humiliating invasion of the body that could befall a prisoner… To be stripped and tied to a triangle, like an owlskin nailed to a barn door; to hear, through the battering pain, the quartermaster-sergeant slowly calling out the strokes; this is what it was to be drowned in powerlessness. It left the prisoner consumed with worthlessness and self-hatred.”
– Robert Hughes, Port Arthur convict