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Chemical Castration

Posted June. 25, 2010 13:08,   


In a world where ferocious sex offenders run amok, parents cannot stop worrying over the safety of their children. The June 7 kidnapping and rape of a 9-year-old girl by a convicted sex offender has touched off a heated debate over the introduction of chemical castration. A pending bill introduced in 2008 by ruling Grand National Party Rep. Park Min-sik seeks to label perverts among habitual child sex offenders and inject hormones into them to reduce their sexual desire.

The term “castration” reminds people of the ancient punishment of removing a man`s testicles. Extracting the testicles that produce male hormones is physical castration. By contrast, chemical castration involves the injection of the drug Lupron to remove testosterone, or the main male hormone that causes sexual impulses. Several Western countries that come down hard on child sex crimes chemically castrate offenders to prevent them from striking again. Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany and the U.S. state of Texas allow physical castration, while Poland and six U.S. states use chemical castration. These countries and states introduced castration not because of low awareness of human rights, but in consideration of the high recidivism among sex offenders, social protection and treatment of the guilty under strict rules based on national consensus, consent from the subjects, and court rulings.

Opponents of chemical castration say the punishment violates the constitutional ban on double punishment and excessively encroaches upon basic human rights. Others say such punishment is not excessive considering the pain and injuries that the child victims of sexual assault will endure for the rest of their lives. Opponents also say the number of people deemed for chemical castration is too small to assess the effectiveness of the system in preventing sex crimes.

Chemical castration alone cannot prevent all sexual offenses, so other correctional treatments and measures are needed as well. A Lupron injection costs about three million won (2,508 U.S. dollars) per person, but the expense should not matter. The decision should ultimately depend on the level of public support for chemical castration.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)