It Is Now Legal To Chemically Castrate Child Sex Offenders In Indonesia

It Is Now Legal To Chemically Castrate Child Sex Offenders In Indonesia

Although this measure has been deemed effective by many countries, including some states in the U.S., many critics have rejected it saying that it would only anger the criminals.

Image Source: Getty Images/Atit Phetmuangtong/EyeEm (Representative)

Back in April 2016, a 14-year-old girl was brutally gang-raped and murdered on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. The alleged suspects turned out to be seven teenage boys, who were eventually sentenced to serve ten years in prison for their heinous crimes. The lenient nature of the punishment immediately sparked national outrage, with people calling for chemical castration as a penalty against child sex offenders. The following month, Indonesian President Joko Widodo signed a decree that authorized chemical castration for convicted perpetrators of sexual abuse against children. It also required offenders released on parole to wear electronic monitoring devices.



During a news conference in May 2016, Mr. Joko explained that the decree amends the country's 2002 law on child protection by enabling judging to hand down punishments they deem suitable. "The inclusion of such an amendment will provide space for the judge to decide severe punishments as a deterrent effect on perpetrators," said Mr. Joko, according to the New York Times. Providing an explanation for reviving this extraordinary penalty, he continued, "These crimes have undermined the development of children, and these crimes have disturbed our sense of peace, security and public order. So, we will handle it in an extraordinary way."

Image Source: Getty Images (Representative)


Signing the order, Mr. Joko noted that "sexual violence against children has increased significantly" in Indonesia. Additionally, he also increased the prison sentences for the child molesters to a maximum of 20 years from its initial 10 years. Now, the process of this chemical castration uses drugs to reduce a person's sexual drive. However, many critics of the procedure regarded it as a false solution. Speaking about the penalty which was first performed in the 1940s, Heather Barr, a senior researcher on women’s rights with Human Rights Watch said, "Chemical castration risks offering a false solution, and a simple one, to what is inevitably a complex and difficult problem."



"Protecting children from sexual abuse requires a complex and carefully calibrated set of responses," she added, explaining how it required more than just that. An effective social services system, school-based efforts to prevent and detect such abuse, treatment services for people at risk of abusing kids and criminal justice measures that entirely focus on prevention, are some of the factors that should be employed to make sure children are protected from sexual assaulters. "Chemical castration on its own addresses none of these needs," continued Ms. Barr, "and medical interventions should be used, if at all, only as part of a skilled treatment program, not as a punishment." 



Last year, Muhammad Aris, 20, became the first man in Indonesia to be sentenced to chemical castration for raping nine children. His initial sentence of 12 years in prison and a Rp100 million ($7,024) fine was changed after receiving approval from the Surabaya High Court. "I’d rather die than undergo chemical castration, which lasts a lifetime,” Aris told local media according to Vice. "If they ask me to sign the document, I’ll refuse. I’d rather die." Even then, the measure was rejected by the Indonesian Women’s Commission who said in a statement that it only "appeals to the public’s emotional urges without addressing the flaws of the Indonesian legal system." Forensic psychologist Reza Indragiri Amriel said that it was an ineffective punishment. "Because the punishment is enforced against the individual’s will, it’s possible the perpetrator will become a predator with sexual abnormalities, for instance, a Mysoped, or a sadistic pedophile," she explained.

During the recent chemical castration sentencing of a man who raped and killed a nine-year-old-girl in Kazakhstan, psychologist Gulnara Aytnzhanova echoed Amriel's concerns and warned that such harsh methods might make pedophiles lash out and use violence to take out their anger. "There will be hatred, hatred to society, hatred to other people," she said. However, urologist Dr. Mirzakhmet Zhanadilov regarded this method pretty effective. "It causes the lowering of libido," he said of the stocks of Cyproterone, which is a steroidal anti-androgen used for combating cancer cells, the country purchased had purchased. 



"The medication is different for each person. That is, medication that is enough for one person to prevent repeated (sexual) offending, others can be resistant to," added Zhanadilov. "For them, not only do we administer the drug but control testosterone too." Several states in the U.S. have now adopted this measure to dissuade child sex abusers from viciously attacking kids. Alabama also reportedly passed a bill that would require child sex offenders to be chemically castrated before they are released from prison. "If we do something of this nature it would deter something like this happening again in Alabama and maybe reduce the numbers," said Republican state Representative Steve Hurst, who introduced the bill. "I had people call me in the past when I introduced it and said, 'Don't you think this is inhumane? I asked them what's more inhumane than when you take a little infant child, and you sexually molest that infant child when the child cannot defend themselves or get away, and they have to go through all the things they have to go through. If you want to talk about inhumane -- that's inhumane."

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