The victim is strapped to a vertical stake with his bare buttocks and back exposed. Then a member of the police or security services brings the lash down against the flesh. Typically five lashes breaks the skin and causes permanent tissue damage. It is possible to be flogged to death.

Often a rapist or a murder will be sentenced to a hundred or two hundred lashes in Saudi Arabia. Rape victims have also been flogged for adultery. This week, the Jeddah Criminal Court sentenced a political blogger to ten years in jail and 1,000 lashes.

Amnesty International has condemned the sentence given to Raif Badawi, co-founder of the “Saudi Arabian Liberals” website, as “outrageous.”

“He is a prisoner of conscience who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression,” Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

On May 7, 2012, Badawi’s site declared a “day of liberalism,” and criticised the dominance of religion in public life. He fled the country and returned when the charges were dropped, reports RT. But in June 2012, he was arrested and charged with “apostasy,” punishable by death.

Badawi was sentenced to seven years and 600 lashes for “ridiculing Islam” and “going beyond the realm of obedience,” in June 2012. But in December, the sentence was overturned and passed to a different court, which increased it to ten years, a $266,000 fine, and a thousand-whip beating.

Rather than having to endure all 1,000 lashes in one sitting, Saudi Arabia allows severe beatings to be doled out over a number of sessions, often in batches of fifty.

Although, as this highly distressing video of a Saudi Arabian flogging shows, any amount of lashes is a heinous punishment.

Photo via istolethetv/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)