Nahar, deputy minister of women's empowerment and child protection, left, presents state prosecutor Juni Wahyuningsih with an award in Mojokerto, East Java, on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Syaiful Arif)

Gov't Forges Ahead With Chemical Castration of Child Sexual Offenders


AUGUST 28, 2019

Jakarta. The government is forging ahead with plans to chemically castrate child sexual offenders, in the hope that it would serve as a strong deterrent against such crimes. 

"It is supposed to have a deterrent effect, because it is a very severe punishment," Social Affairs Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita said on Wednesday. 

Agus's comment came a week after the Mojokerto District Court in East Java sentenced Muhammad Aris to chemical castration for having sexually molested nine children. The court ruling was the first since a 2016 government regulation in lieu of law on chemical castration.

The minister said he was certain chemical castration would serve as a deterrent against child sexual offenders.

The punishment will be enforced soon, and Agus said anyone opposing it could challenge it in court. 

"There are many ways to take the matter to the Constitutional Court. But this is a valid decision, so any court ruling based on this law must be respected," he said.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) are opposing the court ruling.

The IDI has rejected the government's plan for doctors to administer the punishment, as it defies their code of ethics.

"We will involve doctors in rehabilitating the victims and perpetrators. This process requires comprehensive treatment, which applies to many academic disciplines," said Pudjo Hartono, an office bearer of the IDI.

He said medical studies have shown that chemical castration does not guarantee the suppression of sexual desire. The IDI suggests the government consider another form of punishment.

A government regulation on the procedures involving the chemical castration of child sexual offenders is currently being formulated and set to be approved by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

It sets rules on castration procedures, including the executor, which is still subject to debate. State prosecutors have the authority to administer such penalty, so they could ultimately be appointed as executors.

The regulation will also detail procedures involving other forms of punishment, including imprisonment, fines, electronic tagging of offenders and publication of their identities.

Amnesty International Indonesia said that by imposing chemical castration, the government was trying to show that it is tough on sex crimes against children.

"But in our opinion, it is a short cut that actually keeps the government from its responsibility to reform the complexity of the legal instruments and policies dealing with child protection," the rights group said in a statement. 

"Chemical castration as punishment violates international rules on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment regulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia has ratified," it said.

'Death Penalty Preferable'

The convicted sex offender meanwhile said he would rather die than be castrated, as it would mean he may never again have a sex drive.

"If I will be castrated through injection, I will refuse, because the impact is lifelong. My friends [other prisoners convicted of rape] said so… I will refuse to sign [the letter of consent]; I'd rather receive the death penalty," 20-year-old Aris said on Monday.

He has been convicted of raping the nine underage girls after using money to lure them into vacant houses.

"I never attacked them, I persuaded them to come with me to a quiet place and I then raped them," he said.

Aris added that he was never sexually attracted to children, but could not afford to hire prostitutes to satisfy his urges. He expressed remorse for raping the girls, all below the age of 10.