Turkish government plans ‘chemical castration’ for child abusers

Turkey's Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül

The Turkish government said on Tuesday that a new law would be submitted to parliament that would permit judges to order the chemical castration of child abusers.

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül said the measure is being considered “to reduce or eliminate” the sex drives of people convicted of sexually assaulting minors, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. He said the draft law would be presented to lawmakers “within a few days.”

Turkey’s legal system dealt with a more than fourfold increase in child sexual abuse cases in 2016 compared to a decade earlier, according to justice ministry data cited by rights groups. According to a report by Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW), Turkish courts ruled on 21,189 cases compared to 3,778 in 2006, and more than 60 percent of suspects were convicted.

Chemical castration, which involves using anaphrodisiac drugs to reduce libido and sexual performance, does not prevent a person from experiencing sexual urges indefinitely. The drug is administered either by mouth or injection, once every month to three months.

The measure was immediately criticized by the Women’s Assemblies Organization as “against human rights” and “a punishment that was distant from modern law.”

Turkey’s highest administrative court, the Constitutional Court, overruled a previous attempt in 2016 to chemically castrate those convicted of sex crimes. The court warned that its definition and limit were “vague.”

But public outrage over a recent child abuse case has reignited the debate over whether chemical sterilization is appropriate in certain cases. Earlier this month, a 20-year-old man was arrested for raping a 3-year-old girl during a wedding party in the southern province of Adana. Prosecutors demanded he serve 66 years in prison, Anadolu reported.

Justice Minister Gül’s announcement came a day after the government decided to set up a committee to tackle child sex abuse cases.

Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed on Tuesday to bring “the severest punishment” for pedophile offenders. He described child abuse as “dynamite that will push our society to collapse” during an address to his party members in parliament.

Several other countries use chemical castration as punishment for sex offenses, including pedophilia. They include Russia, Indonesia, Australia, South Korea and the US.

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