Jakarta – Castration is a punishment that not only belongs in the past but that also violates human rights. The government together with the House of Representatives (DPR) needs to remove it from the statute books. If they want to apply stronger punishment to those who rape children, judges can sentence them to life in jail.
The pros and cons of castration as a punishment have appeared again after judges sentenced Muh. Aris to 12 years in jail plus chemical castration. The judges at the Mojokerto District Court, East Java, found the 20-year-old guilty of raping a number of children. The verdict was then upheld by the Surabaya High Court in July.
This is the first time somebody has been sentenced to chemical castration since the punishment was included in a government's regulation in lieu of law in 2016. This regulation, signed into law by President Joko Widodo, was a revision to the Child Protection Law. It was subsequently approved by the DPR and passed into law in the form of Law No. 17/2016.
Chemical castration is carried out by reducing the levels of testosterone to reduce sexual urges. However, prosecutors have not been able yet to carry out this punishment because the government has not issued an implementing regulation. The Indonesian Medical Association has refused to carry out the punishment because the law states that the sentence is carried out by prosecutors, not doctors.
If they want to create a deterrent effect, all judges have to do is to increase the length of Aris's sentence to life in jail. Judges could also choose additional punishments that are more humane, such as revealing the identity of the perpetrator to the public or requiring him or her to wear electronic detection equipment to allow tracking by the authorities.
Castration is a punishment that belongs in the past. Physical castration was used in many countries for hundreds of years. In Europe, in the Middle Ages, lex talionis was applied in the form of castration for sexual crimes and rape. The principle means the law of retaliation in line with the crime: thieves had their hands cut off, rapists were castrated, and murderers were executed.
After the Second World War, the use of castration fell dramatically in Europe. A huge change also took place in the United States along with the growth of democracy. Floggings, castration and the removal of limbs, vanished from the law. These types of punishment are not fitting in modern and civilized society.
Modern law takes the view that wrongdoing does not simply come from a person's aggressiveness, but also from the social and political environment. The motive for a person to carry out rape is not only because of sexual desire, but could also be because of anger, hatred or other motives. If this type of person is castrated, the punishment does not target the fundamental problem.
Chemical castration as a punishment is clearly a violation of human rights: every person has the right to determine what happens to their body. Castration is also a violation of the right to procreate and to have descendants. Chemical castration can also trigger health problems such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, depression, and insomnia.
From the aspect of law enforcement, chemical castration is not always guaranteed to deter people. This was shown in a 1994 investigation carried out by Fred S Berlin, director of the United States National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual. Berlin concluded that 8 percent of 629 men who were chemically castrated reoffended within the next five years.
All this shows that chemical castration is an affront to human dignity. As a democratic nation that respects human rights, Indonesia should not apply this punishment.