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Module 4 Answers

1. Answer: B, C, D

It is important to realize that torturers often attempt to conceal their deeds. For example, physical evidence of beating may be limited when wide, blunt objects are used for beatings. Similarly, victims are sometimes covered by a rug, or shoes in the case of falanga, to distribute the force of individual blows. For the same reason, wet towels may be used with electric shocks. Also, torture victims may be intentionally detained until obvious signs of abuse have resolved.

2. Answer: A

The improvement in the methods of detecting and providing evidence of physical torture has paradoxically led to more sophisticated methods of torture that do not to leave visible evidence on the victim’s body.

3. Answer: A, B, C

While the symptoms and conditions listed in A, B and C may be associated with falanga, they are not considered pathognomonic.

4. Answer: A

Small tympanic membrane ruptures (less than 2 mm in diameter) usually heal within 10 days.

5. Answer: D, E

“Palestinian” suspension results in traction on the lower roots of the brachial plexus and is therefore most likely to result in a sensory deficit in the ulnar distribution. A “winged” scapula can be observed on physical examination as a prominent vertebral border when hands are pressed against a wall with outstretched arms.

6. Answer: A

Various forms of positional torture are commonly associated with musculoskeletal symptoms and disabilities, but usually do not result in specific or permanent dermatologic or radiographic findings.

7. Answer: A, C, D E

Crushing and stretch injuries commonly cause contusions and may cause abrasions depending on the nature of the objects used and the forces applied. Rough objects and tangential forces may result in abrasions. Incisions are unlikely as they result from sharp, penetrating objects. Extensive muscle necrosis can result in the release of myoglobin which can cause acute renal failure and death unless dialysis is initiated.

8. Answer: E

All of the statements regarding burn injuries are accurate.

9. Answer: E

Electric shocks have been commonly used by torturers for many years because they cause exquisite pain, but rarely leave identifiable physical signs. Depending on the path of the current, electric shocks can result in dislocation of joints, arrhythmias, urination and defecation.

10. Answer: A

Occasionally the electrodes can leave small burns, probably from sparking. Lesions tend to be circular, hyperpigmented and less than 0.5 cm in diameter. Although non-specific, they can corroborate allegations of electric shock torture, especially if they are in certain parts of the body.

11. Answer: E

Hypoxia can cause permanent brain injury and exposure to contaminated water or other caustic liquids may result in acute broncho-pulmonary infections, conjunctivitis and otitis media.

12. Answer: B

Waterboarding is a form of asphyxiation torture that dates back to the Middle Ages and, recently, has been practised by the United States. Victims are strapped to a board or made to lie in a supine position with their heads lower than the rest of their bodies. The face is covered with cloth, and water is poured over the victim’s mouth to create the sensation of drowning. This deliberate infliction of severe physical and mental pain constitutes torture.

13. Answer: E

Violent shaking can result in all of the problems listed.

14. Answer: B, C, D

Rape is only one of many forms of sexual assault including forced nudity, groping, molestation and forced sexual acts. Often, sexual assaults will be accompanied by direct or implied threats. In the case of women, the threat may be one of becoming pregnant. For men, those inflicting the torture may also threaten (incorrectly but usually deliberately) that the victim will become impotent or sterile. For men or women there may be the threat of contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and often the threat or fear that sexual humiliation, assault or rape will lead to ostracism from the community and being prevented from ever marrying or starting a family. Rape is always associated with the risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Ideally, medical evaluations of alleged sexual assault should include a team of experienced clinical experts.

15. Answer: G

All of the methods listed have been determined to constitute torture by the UN Committee Against Torture and/or the Special Rapporteur on Torture.

16. Answer: B, C, D

Despite the fact that torture is an extraordinary life experience capable of causing a wide range of psychological suffering, extreme trauma such as torture does not always produce psychological problems. Therefore, if an individual does not have mental problems, it does not mean that he/she was not tortured. When there are no physical or psychological findings, this does not refute or support whether torture had actually occurred. Major Depression and PTSD are the most common diagnoses among survivors of torture and ill treatment. The course of Major Depression and PTSD varies over time. There can be asymptomatic intervals, recurrent episodes, and episodes during which an individual is extremely symptomatic.

17. Answer: A

The psychological consequences of torture and ill treatment develop in the context of personal meaning and personality development. They also may vary over time and can be shaped by cultural, social, political, interpersonal, biological and intrapsychic factors that are unique to each individual.

18. Answer: B

Descriptive methods of evaluating psychological evidence of torture are best when attempting to evaluate psychological or psychiatric reactions and disorders because what is considered disordered behaviour or a disease in one culture may not be viewed as pathological in another. While some psychological symptoms may be present across differing cultures, they may not be the symptoms that concern the individual the most. Therefore, the clinician’s inquiry has to include the individual’s beliefs about their experiences and meanings of their symptoms, as well as an evaluating the presence or absence of symptoms of trauma-related mental disorders.

19. Answer: I

All of the factors listed can affect psychological outcomes following torture and ill treatment.

20. Answer: G

All of the risk factors listed can contribute to the possibility of developing mental illness among refugee survivors of torture.
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