Indonesian human rights agency slams chemical castration for sex crimes

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A regulation to create a legal basis for chemical castration in Indonesia is pending approval from the Law and Human Rights Ministry. Image: Komnas HAM

By Nani Afrida in Jakarta

Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has taken a firm stance in formally opposing the government’s plan to punish sex offenders using chemical castration.

The commission has argued that the penalty was not only against human rights, but would not be effective in reducing sex crimes, especially against children.

“Castration as a punishment using any means undermines man’s dignity. This is against human rights principles and it is not in line with Indonesia’s spirit of upholding human rights,” Komnas HAM member Siti Noor Laila said.

“We believe the problems of sexual abuse and crimes are not medical so do not need castration as a solution. Such crimes are related to psychological and social issues,” said commissioner Roichatul Aswidah.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has agreed to issue a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) to create a legal basis for the punishment.

Currently the Perppu is pending approval from the Law and Human Rights Ministry.

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The government also needs approval from the House of Representatives to implement the policy.

Medical experts
Komnas HAM said it had held meetings and discussions with medical experts, psychologists and criminologists before announcing its stance to the public.

Aswidah said in dealing with rapists and child predators, the government should take a comprehensive approach, adding that chemical castration was not the answer.

Komnas HAM was also pessimistic about implementation, saying the government should consider factors such as monitoring, budget and carrying out the procedure.

Among the potential issues is who would monitor the perpetrators, as they should receive chemical injections every three months. Previously, Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Yambise said chemical castration would act as a deterrent to child sex offenders.

Based on the latest data from the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA), 3,726 sexual crimes were perpetrated against children in 2015, up by 12 percent from 3,326 cases recorded in 2014.

Unlike surgical castration, chemical castration involves the administration of anti-androgenic drugs to reduce sexual urges, compulsive sexual fantasies and the capacity for sexual arousal.

Lasting side effects
The drugs are given in the form of an injection every three months and the castration is reversible when treatment is discontinued. There are, however, lasting side effects.

Chemical castration laws are in force in a number of US states and other countries including South Korea, Moldova, Russia and Estonia.

The treatment is used differently in each country. Some enforce it as part of sentencing, while others use it as a way for perpetrators to reduce their prison terms.

Criminologist Iqrak Sulhin told The Jakarta Post that castration was related to reproductive organs and had no relation to why someone committed sexual crimes.

“I think the punishment is only to calm the public. However, this effort will not address the root of the problem, or why the amount of sex crimes is high,” Iqrak said.

He suggested the government address fundamental problems in society such as gender inequality to reduce such crimes.

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