Torture is any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for the purpose of getting information, punishing, intimidating or coercing, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind.
In 1984 the United Nation General Assembly adopted the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Under the Convention, torture is further defined as a man-made epidemic consisting of acts perpetrated by or with the approval of government officials and which are designed to inflict extreme physical and/or psychological suffering
Torture is perpetrated in all corners of the globe. Frequently, it is employed as a tool to intimidate and silence opponents who take courageous stands against circumstances that they consider unjust. Torture victims often include vocal leaders of ethnic minorities, human rights defenders, union members and activists, politicians, student leaders, journalists, as well as individuals (or even entire communities) who protest against harsh, inhumane, or undemocratic conditions.
Torture constitutes one of the most profound human rights abuses, taking a terrible toll on its millions of individual victims as well as their families. Some of the most commonly employed tactics against victims of torture include rape, blows to the soles of the feet, suffocation in water, burning, electric shock, sleep deprivation, shaking and beating – all intended to systematically break the victim in order to make them conform. As terrible as the physical wounds are, the psychological and emotional scars are usually the most devastating and the most difficult to repair.