The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, has signed a decree allowing chemical castration for convicted child sex offenders. It also requires those who are released on parole to wear electronic monitoring devices. This comes in response to the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl who was on her way home.
7 teenage boys were sentenced to 10 years in prison each for the crime and it prompted a national outrage that called for the chemical castration of child sex offenders. Mr. Joko announced at a news conference at the presidential palace that he had signed a decree amending the 2002 law on child protection. It enables judges to hand down the punishment for chemical castration at their discretion.
“The inclusion of such an amendment will provide space for the judge to decide severe punishments as a deterrent effect on perpetrators,” Mr. Joko said.
“These crimes have undermined the development of children, and these crimes have disturbed our sense of peace, security and public order,” he said. “So, we will handle it in an extraordinary way.” Mr. Joko said that “sexual violence against children has increased significantly” in Indonesia, although his government has not provided data to back his assertions. He also increased the jail sentences for child sex offenders to a maximum of 20 years from 10 years.
An unofficial moratorium on capital punishment was removed last year due to Indonesia facing what is called a drug crisis. 13 convicted drug traffickers were executed by firing squad, prompting an international condemnation.
Chemical castration occurs when drugs are used to reduce the sex drive of an individual. It has been used in a number of countries for convicted sex offenders and pedophiles, at times, for a more lenient prison sentence. Some of the countries that allow chemical castration include Australia, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. There are still many skeptics of this procedure, which was originally performed in the 1940s.
“Chemical castration risks offering a false solution, and a simple one, to what is inevitably a complex and difficult problem,” said Heather Barr, a senior researcher on women’s rights with Human Rights Watch, the New York-based organization.
“Protecting children from sexual abuse requires a complex and carefully calibrated set of responses,” she said, 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.
“Chemical castration on its own addresses none of these needs,” Ms. Barr continued, “and medical interventions should be used, if at all, only as part of a skilled treatment program, not as a punishment.”