Canadian project could be model for UK
Much of bioethical
discourse is concerned with enhancement. How about dis-enhancement,
or shedding, rather than adding to physical abilities? With the
return of former rock star Gary Glitter to the UK in disgrace as a
convicted paedophile in the news, a Canadian scheme to treat
paedophiles with chemical castration is being studied as a solution.
Serious sex criminals and men who have not offended but are afraid
that they might are being treated with psychotherapy, group
counselling and drugs.
“I have seen many
patients who have committed murders and rapes, who have been involved
in sexual torture of victims, who have changed dramatically on these
medications, to the point where they are nowhere near the risk they
were,” says Dr Paul Fedoroff, of the Royal Ottawa Mental Healthcare
Chemical castration, or
antilibidinals, as doctors term them, are not new and are already
being used by psychiatrists in the UK. But there are no systematic
protocols. The medication would have to be voluntary, as castration
as a punishment or condition of parole would probably breach human
rights codes. One problem with relying upon these drugs is that
offenders might stop taking them. There have been no studies of their
effectiveness, but doctors interviewed by the London Times say that
anecdotal evidence suggests that only about 3% of patients re-offend.
“There may be those who
don’t like the idea of offenders receiving help,” says one doctor.
“But these are not individuals who are going to be released because
of this treatment. They are offenders who have served their time.
This isn’t part of the punishment, but aims to reduce the likelihood
that they will need to be punished again. The question is: do you
want them out there with treatment, or without it?” ~ London Times,
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