Lawmakers consider chemical castration for pedophiles

The Investigation Committee of Russia has suggested chemical castration for pedophiles. The Public Chamber supported the suggestion, while expressing indignation over the lenient terms pedophiles are currently receiving.

­Aleksandr Bastrykin, head of the Investigation Committee, stated on Thursday during a Public Chamber session that a respective draft law has already been prepared for consideration.  Persons who sexually abuse minors would face the possibility of chemical castration.

“Chemical castration does not make up for the punishment and is not a type of it,” Bastrykin said. “This is just a medical-legal form of treating those persons who served a sentence after sexually abusing minors and have completed their sentence.”

Today pedophiles in Russia can lapse into their old ways the minute they are released. In mid-April, southern Russia was the scene of a horrible crime against a child. In Budennovsk, a woman contacted a crime investigator to report that her 9-year-old daughter, who had been undergoing medical treatment in a local hospital, was raped. It emerged that the rapist had already been convicted for pedophilia once, but was released on parole.

Another shocking crime happened in April. In Mineralnye Vody, a southern Russian city, the body of an 8-year-old girl was found hanging from a tree in a suburban neighborhood. The child was raped before being murdered. The rapist, as it turned out, had also been released on parole some time before, after having served time in jail for pedophilia.

“The draft law we have introduced was prepared on the ground of international experience and meets all international standards,” stated Bastrykin. “Such a measure has been introduced in many US states, in Canada and in many European countries – France, Germany, Denmark, Israel, Sweden, Poland and Norway.”

According to data provided by the Supreme Court Justice Department, more than 2,000 persons convicted for sexual crimes in 2010 were at large with outstanding convictions. And 500 more persons committed new crimes after being freed.

­Taking a hard line

­The need for making a new draft law became obvious long ago. Before 2009, when penalties for pedophilia were finally hardened, rapists were sentenced to just 8 to 15 years in prison, and persons who sexually abused children younger than 16 could get away with just a fine.

But 2009 saw a burst in minor rape cases: more than 9,500 children suffered from pedophiles in Russia. Nearly 1,000 of them were raped, and a third of them were younger than 14.

According to the gzt.ru online newspaper, in 2009 State Duma Deputy Anton Belyakov introduced a bill in which he suggested pedophiles should either be jailed for life or given injections that block sexual drive. If such precautions are taken, the chance of a recurrence is less than 3 percent, stated Belyakov. And while the draft law seems to have lost steam in the State Duma, thousands of children have been raped in Russia.

The same year the law finally became more severe: rapists were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. But despite the long-term detention in a jail, many of them reverted to their old habits once released, and some are even paroled, reducing the undeservingly short sentence even more.

The sanction suggested by the Investigation Committee is voluntary. The procedure presents a regular application of injections that lead to the decrease of testosterone level which suppresses sexual drive. Its effect, however, is not irreversible.

Bastrykin pointed out a psychiatric examination should be held a few months before releasing the criminal from prison. If he is still believed to be dangerous and refuses chemical castration, the correction facility administration would take legal action and have the person put in a psychiatric institution. Those who have resorted to violence more than once are believed to be dangerous whatever the examination results.

Persons who have not yet sexually abused minors but believe they may do so should also undergo chemical castration on a voluntary basis, said Bastrykin. He suggested creating a social state-run program for rendering such services.

“Creating such centers should become an important social project in this country,” he declared.

Mikhail Fedotov, a Russian human rights activist, believes chemical castration is a good and long-awaited measure.

“Chemical castration should be perceived as compulsory treatment,” Fedotov said. “This is one of the most effective methods of protecting the population from pedophiles.”

The Public Chamber seems to be thinking along the same lines. Apart from supporting the introduction of the draft law, it suggested banning conditional release for pedophiles.

This, however, may not be the only solution to a problem. The head of the Serbsky Social and Forensic Psychiatry Center, Zurab Kekelidze, believes more steps must be taken to prevent the sexual abuse of children.

“One the biggest problems in Russia is the absence of preventive measures in the case of pedophiles,” he said. “They do not know whom to address, which leads to crimes.”

Evgeny Arkhipov, head of the Russian Lawyers for Human Rights Association, told RT that would-be sex offenders should be identified in their childhood.

“It's the job of teachers and psychiatrists,” Arkhipov said. "And that's where the focus of anti-pedophile measures should lie. Otherwise it becomes a matter of law enforcement.”