On Wednesday, the president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, signed into law a decree that would order chemical castration for convicted child sex offenders.
The law was triggered by the gang rape and murder in April of a 14-year-old girl who was headed home on Sumatra. Seven teenage boys each received 10 years in prison. Joko stated that the new law amended a 2002 law, adding, “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.”
The new law also increased the jail sentences for child sex offenders to a maximum of 20 years from 10 years.
Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence Against Women has reported roughly 35 Indonesian women a day suffer from sexual violence.
Heather Barr, a senior researcher on women’s rights with Human Rights Watch, protested, “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. 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.”
As CNN has reported:
The process of chemical castration has been used in various forms, either forcibly as a sentence or as a way for offenders to reduce their jail time in several countries including Argentina, Australia, Estonia, Israel, Moldova, New Zealand, Poland and Russia. At least nine U.S. states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin have versions of chemical castration in their laws.
A Danish study of 900 castrated sex offenders in the 1960s found tht the rate of repeat offenses dropped after castration to 2.3 percent from 80 percent.