Crime and Punishment
When you think of law and order, you probably think about courtrooms, our legal system, police forces, and prison. You also probably think about the TV show.
And as that program and so many others show, there are countless laws and customs in our society in place to protect the welfare and well-being of children, the most innocent members of our society.
Sadly, children across the world are victims to much more mistreatment than we can even fathom, from unrestricted labor laws and sex trafficking to physical and emotional abuse.
When it comes to somebody paying for his or her crimes, the spectrum of punishment is incredibly wide: from monetary fines and community service to jail time and even death. Yet even with our established systems, punishment across the world today has taken an increasingly personal turn. Instead of all the money it costs to keep somebody behind bars, countries and jurisdictions are experimenting with physical penalization: sentences that focus exclusively on criminals’ bodies.
Especially for sex crimes, physical punishment like mandatory chemical castration has become more popular in the past decade. But do our legal systems have a right to carry out such an invasive punishment?
Pedophilia and the Law
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult is sexually attracted to (often prepubescent) children. While not a legal or criminal term, pedophilia is stigmatized if not downright illegal across the world. The word ‘pedophile’ is often used as a blanket term to describe an individual who is primarily or exclusively attracted to minors, and the label is regularly confused with child sexual abuse.
Formally recognized in the 19th century, pedophilia is now a term we hear about frequently in the news as well as in fictional crime programs. Yet as as mental disorder, mere prison time isn’t an adequate punishment for those who act on their pedophiliac desires, especially if there is no rehabilitation involved.
Now, in over a dozen countries around the world, a more direct approach is being take to curb pedophiles’ desires and sex drives: chemical castration.
Most men would cringe when they hear the word “castration,” and for good reason. Unlike the physical act in its most simple definition, however, chemical castration is not surgical, but rather depends on drugs to reduce libido and thus sexual activity. Typically administered through ongoing treatments, chemical castration is non-surgical, non-invasive, and is not a method of sterilization.
In countries like Argentina, Portugal, South Korea, and even the United States, chemical castration has been introduced as a means of punishment that can either lessen a pedophile or child molester’s prison sentence or otherwise be administered during jail time along with other rehabilitation. Ideally, the drugs would stop the criminal’s desire for minors in the future, inhibit pedophiliac fantasies in their minds, and generally reduce their sexual activity. In some of these places, it is an offender’s choice to undergo the process.
These laws, however, have not come detractors.
Chemical Castration in Indonesia
After a horrifying gang rape of a 14-year-old girl, Indonesia has become the latest country to introduce mandatory chemical castration to its criminal justice system.
Last April, 14-year-old Yuyun from a village in Sumatra was abducted, attacked, and raped by a group of young men and boys. 12 men were later found guilty, including seven teenagers that were either 16 or 17 years old.
Now the country’s Parliament has passed harsh new measures that would employ chemical castration against repeat sexual offenders as well as people found guilty of abusing relatives. Other pedophiles and sex offenders may be tagged with a microchip to keep track of their location. Sex offenders in severe cases may even face execution.
It may sound like a secure, medical way to prevent repeat offenses. But many people are unhappy with mandatory chemical castration sentences, including the Indonesia Doctors Association and Indonesia’s National Commission for Women. Here’s why.