For Indonesian activists, chemical castration of paedophiles "is legalised revenge"
President Joko Widodo signed a decree amending sexual violence legislation. Culprits now face the death penalty or life imprisonment. For Catholic Women’s association, castration is contrary to fundamental human rights and “does not heal” what leads to rape. Medical practice should “never cause further harm.”
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – President Joko Widodo’s signature on a decree toughening penalties against those who commit sexual abuse against adults and minors has generated controversy and criticism.
Until now the maximum sentence was 14 years in prison: now offenders risk the death penalty, life imprisonment or chemical castration.
Many human rights activists have come out against the new decree, calling it legalised revenge. They stress that tougher penalties will not solve the problem. Widodo justified his decision, saying that “exceptional crimes calls for exceptional punishments”.
Proposed in 2015, Government Decree (PERPP) N. 1-2016, is a revision of Government Decree N.23 of 2002, which deals with the protection of children.
With the new measures, the identity of sex offenders will be made public. If they are released before completing their sentence, they will have to wear an electronic device to keep track on their movements. Now the decree goes before parliament for a final decision.
Mariana Amiruddin, of the National Commission for Women (Komisi Nasional Anti Kekerasan terhadap Perempuan, or Komnas Perempuan), slams the decree for its ambiguity. “The government does not consider rape as an act of violence, but only a matter of controlling sexual impulses".
According to Komnas Perempuan, sexual violence reveals itself not only in the act itself but also in extreme behaviour or acts. "Castration would only limit cases of rape but not all the other episodes of coercion".
Yustina Rostiawati, president of the Catholic Women of Indonesia (Wanita Katolik Republik Indonesia, WKRI), listed a series of reasons why the new law must be rejected, especially castration.
First, "sexual violence stems not only from carnal impulses but from psychological difficulties that castration does not heal in any way."
Secondly, "medical practice should always focus on treating the disorder, be it physical or mental, and should never cause further harm."
Notwithstanding the fact that chemical castration can cause illnesses and hormonal imbalances, this measure, she added, "legalises the spirit of revenge" and is contrary to fundamental human rights.
Castration “would only create a chain of revenge,” said psychologist and child education expert Seto Mulyadi. “It is certainly not the only solution that could be implemented."
In recent months, Indonesia has seen a rise in child abuse cases. According to the Indonesian Children Protection Commission (Komisi Perlindungan Anak Indonesia, KPAI), 21 million children are at risk of becoming victims of sexual abuse, at least 58 per cent of whom have already experienced violence.