06/10/2016, 16.38
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Indonesian doctors against chemical castration for pedophiles

by Mathias Hariyadi

Indonesia’s Medical Association is against President Joko Widodo’s decree. “We do not want to disobey the laws of the State but we do not want doctors to become the executors of a practice that goes against our conscience." Doctors must heal, not harm the human body. The decree does not take into account side effects.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo has issued a decree (Perppu 1-2016) that imposes hormonal treatment on pedophiles and rapists. The Indonesian Medical Association (Ikatan Dokter Indonesia, IDI) has reacted by saying that chemical castration is not the right measure to prevent sexual violence and rape, and that it goes against their Hippocratic oath and should not be performed by medical personnel.

Proposed in 2015, the presidential decree amends the existing child protection legislation (Law n. 23-2002) allowing courts to impose the death penalty, life imprisonment or chemical castration on convicted offenders.

Under the new legislation, offenders’ identity will be made public. If they are released, they will have to wear an electronic monitoring device to track their movement. However, human rights activists and Indonesia’s Catholic Women’ association have criticised the law.

For the Indonesian Medical Association, castration is not an adequate deterrent to sexual violence because it does not generate a sense of "repentance" in attackers.

In addition, "there are no good data on how many such operations have been carried out on humans. We have no idea what steps have to be taken, apart from the fact that there are side effects that the law does not take into account,” said Wimpie Pangkahila, professor of andrology.

As testosterone production is inhibited, there is bone density loss and abdominal effects. For Nugroho Setiawan, a sexologist and andrologist at the Fatmawati Hospital in Jakarta, this is why chemical castration violates the Hippocratic oath.

"Our mission as physicians is to heal patients from disease,” he said, “not the opposite and harm their (offenders’) natural potential.

What is more, the procedure "is not permanent and must be repeated periodically, with many side effects. It is also very expensive."

"Our position is clear,” said Medical Association President Ilham Oetama Marsis. “We do not want to disobey the laws of the State but we do not want doctors to become the executors of a practice that goes against our conscience."

Some doctors have also doubts about the actual effectiveness of castration. Dr Eunice Pingkan Najoan is one of them. "The result could be the opposite,” she said. “Castrated people are more driven to act uncontrollably against other individuals because something fundamental to their body was taken away by force."

The Catholic Church has always been against chemical castration. "So far, the existing penalties against sexual violence have not been effective because of police corruption,” said Fr Siswantoko, from the Pastoral Commission for Migrants of the Commission of Justice and Peace. “The real challenge is to change the way we think about the problem,” he explained.

“Sexual violence does not happen only because of carnal desire. It is caused primarily by society’s lifestyles, where drugs, alcohol and pornography are everywhere. The best solution is to start by educating society to a new morality."

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