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What are the 10 most prevalent forms of torture and why?
Image Gallery: Protests
Image Gallery: Protests

Amnesty International members protest reported abuses of detainees at the hands of U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in Paris in January 2007. See more pictures of protests.

Stephane de Sakutin/Getty Images

In 2000, human rights group Amnesty International and African social sciences organization CODESRIA published a handbook for watchdog groups monitoring prisons where torture is suspected. The guide offers insight into just what qualifies as cruel, inhuman and degrading (CID) treatment.

The book also discusses the most common forms of torture among them beatings, electric shocks, hanging a person by the limbs, mock executions and forms of sexual assault, especially rape.

In addition to Amnesty International's list, we'll also look at five common forms of torture cited by the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, including burns, penetrating injuries, asphyxiation, forced human experimentation and traumatic removal of tissue and appendages.

While most of these endured horrors are physical, or black torture, mock executions are white torture (psychological) [source: Cesereanu]. There's little distinction between black-and-white forms of torture; both are equally insidious. As the humanitarian group SPIRASI (Spiritan Asylum Services Initiative) puts it, "Methods of physical and psychological torture are remarkably similar, such that one should not separate their effects from each other" [source: SPIRASI].

What follows are 10 prevalent forms of torture that prisoners throughout the world endure. In the next section, we'll examine a form of torture that's been in use for thousands of years but remains no less painful today. Before proceeding, readers, please be aware that this article contains descriptions of violence that may not be suitable for everyone.

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