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A eunuch of the Qing Dynasty, China. This child victim is missing all external genitalia.

Emasculation of a human male is to deprive (a man) of his male role or identity.

The word also has other meanings which are more commonly used. See below.

Genital modification and mutilation[edit]

For removal of the penis alone, see penis removal.
For removal of the testicles alone, see castration.

In history[edit]


In Medieval Europe, emasculation was used as a form of punishment. It was sometimes done when a person was hanged, drawn, and quartered (a form of execution by torture).[1]


In ancient China, emasculation was performed as a punishment up until the Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty. Additionally, some men underwent the procedure as means of becoming employed as an imperial servant or bureaucrat. [2][3][4][5] In English, the word eunuch is generally used to refer to these Chinese people who underwent emasculation, and they are often referred to as having been "castrated" rather than "emasculated". As of the Qing Dynasty, emasculation was still performed in China. In the 19th century, the rebel Yaqub Beg and all of his sons and grandsons were punished by being emasculated and enslaved.[6][7] The last Imperial eunuch was Sun Yaoting, who died in 1996.[8] For more information on emasculation in China, see Castration#China.


The ancient Vietnamese adopted China's practice of emasculation and the use of eunuchs as servants and slaves for the monarchy. The procedure was reportedly very painful as both the testicles and penis were removed.[9] In 1838, the Emperor of Vietnam made a law that said only adult men of high social standing could be emasculated. In the end, most eunuchs ended up being men who had been born with genital abnormalities and then handed over to the authorities.[10][11] During the late 19th century, the French used the existence of eunuchs in Vietnam to degrade the Vietnamese.[12] For more information on emasculation in Vietnam, see Castration#Vietnam.


The Khitan people of northeast Asia adopted the Chinese practice of emasculating slaves.[13]


In 19th century Russia, the Skoptsy sect of Christianity performed emasculation, which they termed the "greater seal".[14]

The Middle East and Africa

In the Arab slave trade, enslaved men and boys from East Africa were often "castrated" by removing both the penis and testicles.[15]

In the modern day[edit]

In The Indian Subcontinent, some members of Hijra communities reportedly undergo emasculation. It is called nirwaan and seen as a rite of passage.[16]

In the United States, males in the Nullo subculture voluntarily undergo emasculation.[17]

In the Bible[edit]

In the Old Testament:

“No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

~ Deuteronomy 23:1 (ESV)
("shall not enter the assembly of the Lord," Explained by the Rabbis to mean that he cannot marry a daughter of Israel)[18][19]

Other meanings[edit]

By extension, the word emasculation has also come to mean rendering a male less masculine, including by humiliation. It can also mean to deprive anything of vigour or effectiveness. This figurative usage has become more common than the literal meaning. For example: "William Lewis Hughes voted for Folkestone’s amendment to Curwen’s emasculated reform bill, 12 June 1809..."[20]

In horticulture, the removal of male (pollen) parts of a plant, largely for controlled pollination and breeding purposes, is also called emasculation.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bellamy 1979, pp. 202–204
  2. ^ Vern L. Bullough (2001). Encyclopedia of birth control. ABC-CLIO. p. 248. ISBN 1-57607-181-2. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  3. ^ American Medical Association (1902). The journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 39, Part 1. American Medical Association Press. p. 235. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  4. ^ Walter Scheidel (2009). Rome and China: comparative perspectives on ancient world empires. Oxford University Press US. p. 71. ISBN 0-19-533690-9. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  5. ^ Guido Majno (1991). The healing hand: man and wound in the ancient world. Harvard University Press. p. 254. ISBN 0-674-38331-1. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  6. ^ Translations of the Peking Gazette. 1880. p. 83. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  7. ^ The American annual cyclopedia and register of important events of the year ..., Volume 4. D. Appleton and Company. 1888. p. 145. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  8. ^ Chatterton, Jocelyn; Bultitude, Matthew. "Castration; The eunuchs of Qing dynasty China; A Medical and Historical Review". de Historia Urologie Europace. 15: 39–47. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Chuyện 'tịnh thân' hãi hùng của thái giám Việt xưa". Viet Bao. October 5, 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  10. ^ Andaya (2006), p. 177 The Flaming Womb: Repositioning Women in Early Modern Southeast Asia, p. 177, at Google Books
  11. ^ Woodside (1971), p. 66 Vietnam and the Chinese Model: A Comparative Study of Nguyen and Ch'ing Civil Government in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century, p. 66, at Google Books
  12. ^ Stearns (2006), p. 1 Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China, p. 1, at Google Books
  13. ^ Peterson(2000), 259. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2014-04-24.
  14. ^ Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Skoptsi". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  15. ^ Murray Gordon (1989). Slavery in the Arab World. Companions to Asian Studies. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 96. ISBN 9780941533300.
  16. ^ Nanda, S. "Hijras: An Alternative Sex and Gender Role in India (in Herdt, G. (1996) Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History. Zone Books.)
  17. ^ Davis, Simon. ""I Still Unload": This Man Is a "Nullo" Who Removed His Penis and Balls". Gawker.
  18. ^ Shulhan Arukh, Eben ha-Ezer 5:1
  19. ^ Ben Maimon, M. (1956). Guide for the Perplexed. Translated by Michael Friedländer (2nd ed.). New York: Dover Publishers. p. 379.
  20. ^ Thorne R. (1986) History of Parliament online. Accessed 12 April 2017
  21. ^ Hedhly A. et al. Flower emasculation accelerates ovule degeneration and reduces fruit set in sweet cherry. Scientia Horticulturae Vol.119, No.4, 17 February 2009, Pp 455–457