Worst punishment for women in human history

punishment for women

History has several such chapters narrating the horrific tales of human torture throughout the years. These forms of punishment for women widely differ from the ones we have now. They were brutal, malicious, and often fatal, yet none would claim otherwise to the torture. Among all these chapters, history holds a prominent place for women’s punishment in the pages of its eternity. These horrors still scream through the past depicting how unjust their lives had been ended. 

Public humiliation or naked parade could be the only answers in your imaginations, but much to your surprise these forms of punishment were considered the most lenient among all. Convicted of minor crimes or felonies, these forms of punishment might take a bit for everyone to grasp its authenticity. Not just men, the pages for women’s punishment is quite an intriguing part of the history of human torture.

Different Forms of Punishment For Women

Medieval history is full of such cruel torture systems for women. Though rape was most common among the shared history, that doesn’t bound the possibilities for more brutal forms of torture and punishment for women.

Face Bridle

punishment for women

Face bridle was developed for women who gossip or slander. It was a device to stop talkative women and to reverse their talking habits. The husband would go to the church or to the government offices to ask for his wife to be controlled. The court would then order his wife to wear a face bridle, a device that would cut her tongue if she tries to move it. Much to her humiliation the husband would then take her place to place wearing the Bridle and would ask people to spit on her face because of her big talks. This device was most popular in Ireland and England. But despite such grave torture and humiliation, the wife was not even allowed to leave the side of her husband. 

Sitting Wooden Horse

punishment for women

Sitting wooden horse is one of the most brutal forms of torture systems for women in medieval history. In this system women were tied to an artificial horse, in the middle of the horse there would be a penis-like structure mounted on the top, it would be attached to a shaft and iron nails, which would move continuously. The women would strip naked and be made to sit onto it as a form of punishment. This penis-like structure with attached nails would go inside the woman’s vagina causing the offender to heavily bleed. Many would die miserably at the moment whereas the one who survived would live a life of paralysis. If this horror doesn’t horrify you, let us enlighten you with the fact that this form of punishment was served on the basic offenses such as adultery or even unpleasing her husband.

The Breast Ripper

punishment for women

The breast ripper was a device made especially for unmarried mothers, sex offenders, and for a woman who would perform an abortion, as a special form of punishment. Through this device, their breast would be ripped apart from their bodies. The claws of the instrument would be heated and then placed on the breast to separate it from the body. As brutal as it sounds, the offenders usually won’t survive the punishment whereas the unlucky ones would be led to live a life full of shame.

Hand Clamps

Famous in the Chinese Feudal Dynasty, this form of punishment was specially made for the woman who does not obey her master’s command. The offenders have to put their fingers inside the specialized tools, these tools were designed to squeeze the fingertips of the person causing heavy pain and if the victim faints, she immediately would be woken up by throwing ice water on her. The punishment would continue till the victim was deprived of all her strength. This form of punishment was finally aborted by the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century. But the European nation soon adopted the technique. The device was prepared in every shape and size to crush the female fingers causing her to ultimately surrender to the male prejudice.

Pear of Anguish

It was a torture device in the medieval period with a metal body and spoon-like segments that could be spread apart using a screw. This device was put inside the woman’s vagina or mouth and the segments would slowly open cutting her genitals as well as the internal organs. This causes heavy bleeding and the victim was bound to die. The punishment was applied to women accused of adultery, witchcraft, and even homosexuality.

Virgin Chamber

punishment for women

The women of the Roman Empire were subjected to this type of torture. The victim would be sacked inside an enclosed chamber with no exits. On the gate of the chamber, iron nails would be attached which would screw inside the offender’s body when closed. Through a close space, the interrogator can also stab sharp poles inside the chamber to torture even further. The victim would then be left to die from starvation and dehydration. This type of punishment was given to the woman found guilty of breaking their chastity vows.

Judas Cradle

punishment for women

During medieval times in Europe, Judas Cradle was an especially designed torture tool for the woman who defies religious beliefs. It was a pyramid-shaped wooden device and the offender was placed on the top of the device with her hands and legs tied so that the weight could not be shift elsewhere. The pointed tip of the pyramid would slowly enter inside the vagina or anus and the offenders would be left to torture for the entire day. Adding more to the shame, these women would be stripped naked and forced to suffer in public. It was a device that gives a slow yet painful death.

The Bottom Line

Throughout history, women offenders are casts as double offenders, first, because they commit a crime and secondly they violated the narrow mindset of the society of women’s role within the hierarchy. In almost every country in the medieval period, women were and still are considered second-class citizens, a person reserved to serve the pleasures of the men. Thus a woman committing the same crime as that of a man was given much more brutal punishment than their male counterparts. They were subjected to horrific forms of torture just because they betrayed the societal mindset. And here we are not implying that women accused of a crime should not be punished, instead, we are trying to convey that the authenticity of the punishment should be unbiased of the gender.

For a long time, women were always bound to get punished for small offenses or even for no offense at all. The rituals like Sati, breast tax, Force-feeding, Chiseling the teeth or even bride kidnapping are few to name. In essence, women were always forced to perform tasks against their own will. Be it oppression or suppression, is a critical decision point even today on the variety and variation in the final facade of the torture system. Because torture is not limited to physical harm but also implies mental destruction. 


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