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16 Oct, 2009 05:05

Castration or life sentence for pedophiles in Russia

Convicted pedophiles in Russia could soon be chemically castrated. Parliament is set to discuss the law, which supporters hope will stop the high-level of child molesters re-offending.

Critics say it could just make the offenders more aggressive.

Last winter, student Evgeny Ivin saved a nine-year-old girl from being raped by a 42-year-old security guard. It was a frost winter evening when was taking his usual short cut home after class through a train yard. Passing between coaches, he saw a small girl lying on the snow, and a man on top of her.

“The girl was almost naked and started crying when she saw me,” remembers Evgeny. “The man grabbed his bag and tried to run away, but I chased him and took him down. I told a train driver to call the police.”

The child molester was given 12 years in prison. The girl escaped her ordeal, but what happens when that man is released?

“When it comes to pedophilia, re-offending is close to 100%,” states Russia’s State Duma deputy Anton Belyakov. “We want to introduce chemical castration for convicted offenders. It’s a widely used measure; the states that practice it say it reduces the amount of re-offending to just 3%.”

For example, in California they allow people who have been found guilty of pedophilia to voluntarily have chemical castration, and it is found to be more effective and a more permanent solution.

Chemical castration may sound harsher than it actually is. In fact, it does not involve any surgical operation nor does it sterilize the offender. It blocks male hormones, reducing sexual activity. Treatment may be discontinued, bringing the patient’s libido back to normal, but psychiatrists say it may have side effects.

“Pedophiles are often impotent anyway. Castration in that case may only make them more aggressive, creating grounds for further crimes,” believes criminal psychiatrist Mikhail Vinogradov.

Human rights organizations have been infuriated by the proposal. They are worried the increased public attention on the issue of pedophilia could have devastating consequences.

Lev Ponomaryov of Moscow Helsinki Group warns that “Pedophile-hunting may be turned into a real campaign, and law enforcers could start arresting people with little investigation. Innocents will be harmed more than ever.”

Around 5,000 children were sexually abused in Russia last year, according to the Internal Affairs Ministry – and that’s only the known cases.

Russia has recently increased sentences for pedophilia. Child abusers now face up to 20 years in prison. Still, most Russians agree it is not enough to simply isolate a pedophile. It is the core of the problem that must be tackled.

People on the streets of Moscow questioned by RT do not think a prison sentence for pedophiles is enough, because in their opinion prison cannot cure them.

Some of them believe pedophiles should be treated not only chemically, but they need psychiatric help. Others insist pedophiles should be castrated.

Russia’s State Duma will most likely consider the bill for chemical castration of pedophiles not earlier than December. According to the bill, the alternative to castration is incarceration – for life.