"I want him to live forever in a jail eating just soil with rats and insects." This was mentioned by a girl, 'Na-young(assumed name)' who was a victim of the ‘Jo Doo-soon incident' in 2008. The news that the eight year-old girl had to get a major surgery for an artificial anus for eight hours made people shocked. After that incident, the 'electronic bracelet' law was passed. However, the rape and murder of a middle school girl (the 'Kim Gil-tae incident') in Busan also gave shock to the people. Since then, other sexual crimes targeting young children followed and sexual crimes are still continuing. With the situation getting worse, people wanted more powerful penalties, saying that an electronic bracelet is useless. For these reasons, a 'Chemical Castration' act was passed and is expected to be enforced in July 2011. Chemical castration! What are its merits and demerits?
-What is chemical castration?
Chemical castration, also known as 'medication of sex drive' is a law to prevent second conviction by controlling sexual desire, injecting chemicals which block out testosterone (the hormone that inspires sexual desire) or injecting a female hormone, estrogen, to reduce secretion of testosterone. Originally, the bill was brought up as chemical castration, but it was renamed recently as 'medication of sex drive' because the original designation can arouse negative misunderstanding. The bill will be applied to sexual deviants over 19 years old who commit sexual assault targeting children under 16 years old, not only habitual offenders but also first-time offenders. To discriminate sexual deviants accurately, chemical castration will be executed with diagnosis of professional psychiatrists. The most remarkable feature of this law is that it can be executed compulsorily. The United States, Denmark, Poland, The Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Argentina carry this law, and in these countries, chemical injection is conducted on the principle of voluntary agreement. Presently, MPA(medroxy progesterone acetate), CPA(cyproterone acetate), and SSRI are mainly used for chemical castration with regular injection. In addition, psychological treatment programs such as intellectual behavioral cures will be performed simultaneously.
It has turned out that most of the nation supports chemical castration. In a recent poll conducted by a government association, three quarters of people said they agreed with the law. This result shows people want stronger punishment. They were immensely shocked by a chain of child sexual offenses. Also, they don't believe in the previous prevention measures anymore. Regarding the facts that Korea has the third most frequent sexual crime and the second conviction rate is almost 60%, people are arguing that a more in-depth system is necessary. Specialists assert that the law is desirable, considering offenders whose preferences are young girls have tendencies toward pedophilia in general. The criminals who have pedophilic tendencies tend to commit a second crime right after they are released, even though they have served many years in prison. Also, since they cannot keep a normal relationship with the opposite sex and regulate sexual desire, they commit child sexual abuse repetitively. That's the main point of supporters’ arguments; for pedophilia, chemical treatment would be more effective than reinforcing the penalty. An investigation from 2000 to 2005 in Oregon presented that among 134 sexual offenders, 55 offenders' second conviction rate without chemical treatment was 10%, while on the other hand, that of 79 criminals who agreed to chemical castration was zero percent. Donald Grubin, Newcastle University's professor of Forensic Psychiatry, explained that the chemical's effects, such as stresses and a sense of lethargy, can be crucial devices to prevent a second conviction.
Meanwhile, other people consider criminal's human rights. However, the majority of citizens emphasize that a victim’s sufferings for a whole life outweighs the offender's human rights.
The objectors' major points are four things; the problem as itself, physical side effects, effectiveness and high spending. Opponents argue that this bill was passed so urgently that it shows many problems. In particular, it doesn't involve agreement of the offender. In case of advanced countries, they are different from us. They allow chemical castration only when a criminal wants it or agrees. Moreover, opponents assert that even though the law accompanies psychological treatment, it is not regulated in detail. Side effects also work as the opposition’s point; if offenders take hormone depressants continuously, they can get illnesses like depression, hyper cholesterol, liver damage, decreased bone density, and diabetes. For these reasons, people who do not support the bill want sufficient clinical demonstration before it is executed. In the mean time, they wonder about the effectiveness of the law. One American psychologist was concerned that the chemical may not work perfectly, because it reacts differently in each person. He also said that since the chemical effect is temporary, a second crime can occur after punishment stops. Lastly, the high expenditure is a big nuisance. It costs five million won for one person and all expenses must be covered by the government. Thus, people say they cannot endorse the bill, because it seems that chemical castration is not effective compared with the enormously high costs.
Though this shows that chemical castration has some drawbacks, it has already passed. Since the bill passed, compromises between supporters and opponents should be essential with detailed research. It is more desirable to approach the law as prevention, not as the punishment. We need to make a society without sexual crime.