By GARRETT EICHER / News Editor
Indonesia has recently adopted a new law legalizing chemical castration among pedophiles. President Joko Widodo believes that the law could wipe out pedophilia, and that it would have immediate effects to limit sexual assault against minors, expecting that it will only take a couple years until the problems of pedophilia will be completely eradicated from Indonesia.
The new legislation is in response to the rape and murder of a fourteen-year-old girl in April, in which even teenage boys were sentenced to ten years in prison. After this incident, many Indonesian people started seeking out ways to prevent such events from occurring, leading to chemical castration legislation being proposed in May. President Widodo originally proposed it with two parties in congress contesting it, and maybe Human Rights activists opposing it claiming it to be a violation of safety and inhumane.
President Widodo responded saying, “Our country respects human rights, but when it comes to sexual crimes there is no compromise.” What seems like a harsh crime is completely justified by many Indonesian who are in favor of the new legislation, many believing that the law could protect their children. But what does the law actually entail?
The treatment involves injecting men with female hormones, thus reducing their libido. The idea is to keep men from acting on their urges to commit sexual violence on children or even women. The treatment is used in other countries such as Russia, Poland, South Korea, and even some US states. The treatment is used on convicted sex offenders and pedophiles in order to prevent them from committing repeated crimes of sexual violence, an idea that follows from the common misconception that any sex offender when released will go on to assault other children, which is . Not necessarily true. The Center of Sex Offender Management claims that only 12 to 24 percent of sex offenders are actually repeat offenders. That isn’t a margin that can be easily dismissed, but it does lead to questions of whether or not the chemical castration could actually work.
To be clear, the hormone treatment does not sterilize or even take any organs out of the body. The female hormones, as said above, simply reduce libido and reduce the chances that a man will act on their impulses again. Azriana, the head of the National Commission for Women, said “Other countries that have chemical castration have not seen a reduction in sexual crime against children. Also it’s a very expensive procedure and what we should be spending and investing our money in is services to support and help the victims.” She criticizes the law thinking that will not actually help the victims and may not even reduce sexual violence.
The legislation only punishes those who have acted on their urges to sexually assault children and does nothing to really prevent future instances unless chemical castration is performed on all men. It also doesn’t address issues of abuse in the form of forcing other children to perform sexual acts on each other. Another criticism opponents have of the method is that chemical castration has been noted to wear off if treatment stops. This means that in order to stop the libido permanently, one would actually have to administer the female hormones to men continuously for years. There are many issues with the Indonesian legislation, but it could potentially lower the rate of sexual offenses if the desired effects take place.