Option for child abusers in many countries, debated in India too

Chemical castration has not only been used as a punishment in some European countries and some American states, , usually for serial offenders in child abuse cases, but also been discussed earlier as an option in India. And in India as in the countries and states where it is in practice, it has been a subject of debate.

The possibility of castration as a punishment in India came up as far back as 1979, when Supreme Court judge V R Krishna Iyer stated in one of his judgments, "An anti-aphrodisiac treatment or willing castration is a better recipe for this hypersexed human than outright death."

Today, constitutional expert P P Rao, a Supreme Court lawyer, says, "Justice Iyer's judgment speaks of 'willing castration', where a convict is given the option of castration against a life sentence. The panel set up to study and suggest measures to tackle sex crimes should go into the judgment."

Last year, Kamini Lau, additional sessions judge in a Delhi court, specifically raised the possibility of chemical castration. "The Indian legislatures are yet to... address the issue (of rape) with all seriousness by exploring the possibility of permitting imposition of alternative sentences of surgical castration or chemical castration, particularly in cases involving rape of minors, serial offenders and child molesters or as a condition for probation, or as an alternative sentence in case of plea bargaining." These views met with opposition from several quarters. Then, even some women's rights activists had felt it would be too harsh a punishment.

Poland and Moldova have such provisions, while the UK too has enforced it. Poland passed legislation in 2009 for forcible chemical castration of anyone guilty of raping a child under 15. Moldova passed similar legislation this year. In the UK, a man found guilty of attempting to murder a 60-year-old woman in order to abduct and rape her two granddaughters agreed to undergo chemical castration.

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