Monday, June 04, 2018

The origins of the Baker's Dozen

During the eighteenth century Turkish shop keepers were punished if found to be trading unfairly or illegally. Bastinado or foot beating was the swift punishment given by the law officers for this crime. In the United Kingdom, bakers came under similar scrutiny by authority, corporal punishment was not so severe for the guilty, but bakers keen to avoid the attention of authorities quickly adopted a scheme of giving an extra roll of bread with orders of a dozen. This is thought to be the origins of a Bakers Dozen.

Foot beating (Falanga, or bastinado), had its origins in the Middle East. Victims were bound with their feet elevated and torturers beat the soles with cables or metal implements. Blows may be direct to bare feet or through shoes. In severe cases, casualties were forced to walk on glass; or ordered to jump on the spot carrying a heavy weight. The immediate effects are pain with bleeding and tissue swelling. Permanent damaged is dependent on post traumatic oedema (or swelling). Torturers limit this, as part of the ordeal, by cooling the feet or forcing the victim to put their shoes on after a beating. Smashing the heel and ball of the foot results in destruction of the natural fatty-fibro padding which assists shock absorption in normal walking. Skin wounds heal leaving painful scars. Detachment of the skin at its deeper levels may also result in damage to proprioception.

There is a condition called plantar fasciitis and debilitating pain in the heel and arch of the foot is common. Traumatic victims suffer a special kind of fasciitis, called aponeuritis. The whole sole of the foot becomes extremely painful. Changes in pressure within muscle compartments often require a change in walking style. The feet are reported as hot and cold and there is an increase in the rate of perspiration. Stability and balance may also be adversely affected due to falanga. In many regions of the world falanga is still practised as a form of corporal punishment in bringing up children. Falanga remains one of the most difficult to diagnose damage.

Abbott G 1993 Rack, rope and red-hot pincers: a history of torture and its instruments London: Brockhampton Press
Gorman M 1998 Falanga keeping DPMs on their toes for torture Podiatry Today 4 60-70.
Zana Mehdi Prison No5:eleven years in Turkish jails

Reviewed 04/06/2018

1 comment:

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