Doctors in Indonesia want no role in castration of rapists
JAKARTA — Indonesia’s doctors’ association refused to be involved in the castration procedure, citing that there was no scientific proof that chemical castration could guarantee reduction in sexual desire.
The Indonesian government will not back down from its plan to castrate child rapists despite the country’s doctors’ association refusing to conduct the procedure.
In its official statement, the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) stated that it would refuse to implement the punishment, which has been stipulated in a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu), because it violates the country’s medical ethics.
The association argued that there was no scientific proof that chemical castration could guarantee a loss or even reduction of sexual desire among perpetrators.
Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo slammed the IDI for “blindly emphasising arguments surrounding the rights of rapists and forgetting the gruesome impact of [the crime on] their victims”.
“How shall we best respond to the brutal rape case [in Bengkulu], for example?” said Prasetyo.
He was referring to the gang rape and murder, by 14 males including seven minors, of a 14-year-old schoolgirl in a remote village in Bengkulu earlier this year. The case eventually raised national awareness of the prevalence of sex crimes as a result of campaigns on social media.
To respond to the perceived increase in sexual assaults, particularly against children, in the country, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo signed Perppu No. 1/2016 on sexual violence against children last month.
The Perppu included provisions stipulating more severe punishments for perpetrators, ranging from a maximum of 20 years to life in prison and the death penalty to chemical castration.
While expressing sympathy for victims, human rights activists as well as the doctors’ association have found themselves in a dilemma regarding the idea of castration as they have cast doubt on the government’s capacity to carry out the punishment, which would be used for the first time in the country.
Anti-rape advocates have suggested the government replace it with a more “humane” punishment.
The activists reiterated their stance following the IDI’s rejection, highlighting that it once again proved that the decision had been made without comprehensive discussion with relevant stakeholders.
“There has been a lack of discussion between the government and related parties in deliberating the regulation,” National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) chairwoman, Azriana said.
Azriana said excluding such voices in the decision-making process had led the government to rush into issuing the controversial regulation.
“Opposition voices, including that of the IDI, to chemical castration would not have emerged after the president signed the regulation if the government had consulted with the medical association in the first place,” Azriana said. “Hence, we must respect the IDI’s decision because it has scrutinised the policy from a medical perspective.”
Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the government respected the association’s decision, but the government would press on with the penalty. “We respect the IDI’s decision. [The association] has the right to refuse to carry it out. We still have doctors who serve in police and military facilities,” Kalla said.
Meanwhile, Prasetyo warned the IDI to comply with the existing law.
The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) said the government should learn from other countries before implementing the punishment.
ICJR executive director Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono cited India as an example of how such a punishment had little deterrent effect.
“India is unique. They impose severe punishments such as the death penalty and chemical castration for rapists. But, you can see that it has failed to reduce the number of sexual offenses in the country,” he said.
According to the 2014 state-run National Crime Records Bureau of India, rape cases in the country increased to 36,735 in 2014 from 33,707 the previous year. This figure has convinced the ICJR that chemical castration will not reduce sexual offenses in Indonesia.
Supriyadi said the government should also consider measures to avoid allegations of human rights abuse in implementing the punishment. In Germany, Switzerland and the UK, chemical castration is only imposed with the consent of the perpetrators.
“Those countries use a voluntary system, which means it is done only if the perpetrators agree to it. Therefore, doctors don’t need to worry, but I don’t think it will happen here,” he said.
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