May 28, 2024

Indonesia legalises chemical castration for sex offenders

Critics argue that this penalty is ineffective

A protest against sexual violence in Jakarta earlier this month.    

Chemical castration will be a sentencing option for judge in Indonesia. President Joko Widodo has signed a decree authorizing this penalty for convicted child sex offenders. Those who have been released on parole must wear electronic monitoring devices.  

The announcement follows outrage over the gang rape of a 14-year-old girl in Sumatra when she was on her way home from school. Mr Joko said that:

“The inclusion of such an amendment will provide space for the judge to decide severe punishments as a deterrent effect on perpetrators”.

“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.”

Chemical castration is an increasingly popular response to sexual abuse around the world. However, it is a controversial remedy.

“Protecting children from sexual abuse requires a complex and carefully calibrated set of responses, including an effective social services system, school-based efforts to prevent and detect abuse, treatment services for people at risk of abusing children and criminal justice measures that focus on prevention,” Heather Barr, of Human Rights Watch, told the New York Times. “Chemical castration on its own addresses none of these needs and medical interventions should be used, if at all, only as part of a skilled treatment program, not as a punishment.”

“Chemical castration is not the solution,” Rahayu Saraswati Djojohadikusumo, a member of the national assembly, told a press conference: “in most cases, pedophiles are not purely driven by sexual desire, but by power and dominance”. She said that chemical castration may temporarily dampen sexual arousal, but offenders will find other ways to exert power.
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