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Jakarta Post

Proposed chemical castration debate continues

  • Liza Yosephine
    Liza Yosephine

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, May 24, 2016   /  09:55 am
Proposed chemical castration debate continues Protesters light candles at an event in Jakarta on Friday, May, 13. (Antara/Aprilio Akbar)

The plan to punish sex offenders using chemical castration has created a heated debate among government officials and civil society alike, raising questions on the efficacy of the sentence and its effectiveness as a deterrent.

"Chemical castration is not the solution," Rahayu Saraswati Djojohadikusumo, a Gerinda Party lawmaker, said at a press conference held by an alliance of civil society groups against the regulation in lieu of law (Perppu), which is awaiting implementation.

The Perppu cites chemical castration as a deterrent effect to reduce sex crimes, especially against children.
"In most cases, pedophiles are not purely driven by sexual desire, but by power and dominance," she added.

Chemical castration may temporarily address sexual arousal, she continued, but in the long term, perpetrators are likely to find other ways to exercise power through violent means.

Careful to not speak on behalf of the House of Representatives, she said her opinion was personal. The statement was supported by 99 non-governmental organizations, united within a network called "Alliance 99 against Chemical Castration Perppu".

"We need to look at the bigger picture and put more emphasis on a holistic approach," said Rahayu, adding that a solution is necessary to make everyone, not just children, feel safe from sexual violence.

Referring to the Nawa Cita (nine agenda) development principles, programs outlined by the President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo administration, Rahayu emphasized the importance of developing programs in support of the priority agenda as a framework of action to address the issue. 

Moreover, Rahayu emphasized the need to enhancing the justice system, including capacity building for judges and correctional facility improvements, questioning the push for implementation of harsh laws if judges on the ground do not implement them.

It is not uncommon for judges to hand out less than maximum punishment, she said, adding that, even whilst in jail, perpetrators are exposed to conditions that could exacerbate criminal tendencies.

Finally, Rahayu said it was important to address the root cause of child sex crime.

Health Ministry official Lina Mangaweang, who is also a psychiatrist, said it was important to provide rehabilitation for child sex offenders.

For pedophiles, she continued, sexual behavior must be directed toward the norm so they do not target underage children as a means of sexual release.

"Pedophilia is a mental disorder, the mindset has to be changed," said Lina, an official at the prevention and control of mental health problems and drugs directorate at the Health Ministry.

She emphasized the benefits of rehabilitation to address sexual violence issues, which would be accompanied by psychotherapy and psychopharmacological approaches.

The increasing number of sexual violence cases committed against children recently led President Jokowi to issue the Perppu, which will serve as the new legal basis to deter people from committing sex crimes against children. He ordered officials to finalize the draft immediately.

The controversial medical sanction involves the administration of anti-androgenic drugs once every three months to reduce sexual interest, compulsive sexual fantasies and the capacity for sexual arousal. Its effects are reversible when treatment is discontinued but there are lasting side effects. (bbn)

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