Jakarta. A fierce debate has erupted over the additional penalties for sex offenders prescribed by President Joko Widodo's government regulation in lieu of law on child protection.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) earlier said that chemical castration is a vengeful and degrading form of punishment, which would constitute a human rights violation. Komnas HAM commissioner Nurkholis called for stricter law enforcement instead.
"The law provides for a prison sentence of between 10 and 20 years; even life, to provide a sense of justice for the victims," he said on Friday (27/05).
Nurkholis said he believes sending perpetrators to prison was a more suitable form of punishment. He urged the government to arrest all sexual offenders and not let them off so easily.
Meanwhile, Sri Nurherwati of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), said she believes chemical castration is an ineffective punishment, as the regulation is only intended to scare off potential perpetrators. It would therefore not be effective as a real deterrent.
"Of the number of cases where victims filed police reports and took legal action, nearly half were either dropped due to insufficient evidence, or resolved through mediation, which involves being married off to the perpetrator, or receiving compensation," Sri said on Friday.
According to Sri, a large number of the remaining cases stop with the police, which means the new penalties prescribed by the law will not be effective if the cases never go to court.
"It's better if the government concentrates on prevention and improves the Code of Criminal Procedures [Kuhap] to understand how to protect victims of sexual violence," she said.
Calls for stricter punishment mounted after reports of the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl by 14 young men in Bengkulu last month.
The incident followed a spate of other headline-grabbing cases of violence against women and children in the past few years.