Chemical castration for child rapists to get voteA bill to force convicted child sex offenders to undergo chemical castration will be put to a vote at the Legislation and Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly today, lawmakers said yesterday.
The legislation’s move came after a recent series of sexual assaults on underage victims, including one in Seoul on Saturday, triggered public fear of child molesters.
The cases of Cho Du-sun, convicted for raping an 8-year-old girl in September 2009; Kim Kil-tae, on trial for raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl in February; and Kim Su-cheol, in custody for kidnapping and raping an 8-year-old girl this month, have ignited an intense public fury as all three had served prison terms for rape in the past. The government is under fire for failing to systematically monitor and punish pedophiles and repeat sexual offenders.
Under the bill proposed by Grand National Party Rep. Park Min-shik in August 2008, repeat sex offenders who molest children aged 13 and under would be subjected to chemical castration in combination with psychological counseling. The treatment will be given for up to six months and a committee under the Justice Ministry will determine whether the treatment should be continued based on the level of the rapist’s rehabilitation. The government estimates the program will cost about 20 billion won ($16 million) annually.
“The committee will meet this morning to pass the bill in an effort to enable the bill to be passed at a plenary session,” said Joo Seong-young, Grand National Party representative, who heads the committee.
Sources in the committee said they originally planned to vote on the bill yesterday, but it was delayed to allow time to discuss contentious issues.
The pending bill states child sex offenders will be chemically castrated “with their consent,” but lawmakers argued that existing measures, such as requiring convicted rapists to wear anklet monitoring devices after release from prison, don’t require their consent.
Lawmakers who oppose Park’s idea said that of the eight U.S. states that legalized chemical castration, only one asks the consent of the sex offenders. Other lawmakers argued that chemical castration for criminals who are married will deny them of a normal sex life.
Countries such as Canada, Denmark, Germany and Sweden along with eight U.S. states have legalized chemical castration.
In the Korean bill, convicted child sex offenders would get injections to reduce testosterone every four weeks. Psychological counseling would be provided once a week. Criminals in other countries who underwent chemical castration experienced depression, fatigue and hepatocirrhosis.
While legislators are making their last-ditch efforts to pass the bill, some experts expressed concerns.
“If [rapists] stop taking injections, their sexual impulse would get higher and that could result in murder in a worst case scenario,” said Lee Soo-jung, a criminal psychology professor at Kyonggi University.
By Kim Mi-ju, Jeon Jin-bae [email@example.com]