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'Hooded Horror': Death by Hanging

'Death – the last sleep?
No it is the final awakening'
- Walter Scott//


In the early hours of 30th December 2006, the former president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was sent to the gallows for the crimes he committed against humanity. Evidences point to the fact that he slaughtered 148 fellow countrymen, who were Shias, and other political rivals.

Historically, the death penalty was, liberally put to use in all societies to wipe out political dissent. In recent times, a death penalty is reserved for those who indulge in crimes such as pre-meditated murder, treason, and espionage. In Muslim-dominated societies 'moral policing' demands that sexual crimes such as adultery, be added to the list of crimes that qualify for a death penalty.

Hanging is the oldest method of execution in the world and traces its origin to Persia, now Iran, 2500 years ago. It continues to enjoy patronage to this day. As all the hangings were carried out publicly, it was a spectacular crime deterrent. It scored above other fond choices of the day such as beheading, stoning, crucifixion, throwing from a height and burning at the stakes.

By the standards of those early days, hanging was thought to be humane and simple. All that was required was a tree, a rope and a ladder, or a cart, to suspend the (sometimes) hapless convict. Besides, it lacked the bloody gore that was associated with beheading. The gallows then came to replace the tree while the trap door took the place of the ladder. It is a common practice to hood the prisoner before hanging, to minimise neck injuries and to diminish the agony of the witnesses. However the 'struggle behind the hood' continued. Later, a general consenses arose seeking to abolish hanging or to make it more humane.

The Evolution of the Noose

Let us take a closer peek at the intricacies of hanging as a mode of execution. The earliest method was the Short-drop hanging'"/>




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