On Thursday, Peru’s Congress will vote on whether or not to approve chemical castration for those who are convicted of sexually assaulting minors under 14 years old.
El Comercio reported that the first vote on this measure was carried out last Thursday, where Congress voted unanimously to give pedophiles a life sentence. The vote for chemical castration, which would be applicable only in cases where the judge deemed it necessary, had 68 votes in favor, seven against, and 28 abstentions.
Congressman of center-right political party Accion Popular Yonhy Lescano presented the initiative, and on Twitter he wrote that a life sentence alone would not make a difference.
Con posiciones tan tibias y sin mano dura no terminaremos con los violadores ni con los delincuentes. Mano dura contra el delito. La cadena perpetua no ha disminuido nuevos delitos ni violadores, hace falta medidas complementarias. Urgente #CASTRACIONQUIMICA. Vizcarra tibio https://t.co/6fdu2SzhnM
— Yonhy Lescano (@yonhy_lescano) May 19, 2018
“With such indifferent positions and no hard line against crime we will not get rid of rapists or criminals,” his tweet read. “A hard line against crime. Life sentences have not reduced new crimes or rapists, we need complementary measures. Urgent #CASTRACIONQUIMICA (chemical castration). Vizcarra indifferent.”
Chemical castration is an injection that uses chemicals as an alternative to physical castration, removing the sexual libido by inhibiting the production of testosterone. It is legal in nine states in the United States, as well as Russia, Poland, Moldova, Estonia, Russia and South Korea, with other countries providing it if requested voluntarily.
Despite the high approval rating in the primary vote, there are many who are against this new proposal. El Comercio reported that Prime Minister Cesar Villanueva and the head of the judiciary, Duberlí Rodríguez, both publicly expressed their position against this measure. Villanueva said that the measure would not resolve the problem and Rodríguez warned that chemical castration wouldn’t change the mindset of the aggressor.
“If we are simply going to inhibit levels of testosterone, which is a hormonal area, we are leaving the area of the person’s mental health practically intact,” Rodríguez said.
Psychologists and sociologists supported this claim in Clarin, explaining that rape is not always a sexual act, and that it can occur without sexual desire as long as they are still pathologically violent individuals. Others argue that penetration doesn’t necessarily involve a penis, and can occur with other parts of the body or with objects.
Other arguments against the measure include the price, as a single injection costs around 1,000 soles ($310), and the injection needs to be given every three months, meaning that it would cost the state over 4,000 soles ($1,200) a year for each pedophile convicted. Additionally, there is no evidence from countries who already have chemical castration proving that it is an effective deterrent.
There is also the view that the high incidence of rape and violence towards children and women in Peru is due to a wider-reaching mentality that needs to be addressed with more urgency.
“The culture of violence is part of Peruvian society and it emits messages that reinforce a chauvinistic way of thinking,” sociologist Jessica Cassani told Clarin. “Men feel that they have right over bodies and they don’t respect them. This command of masculinity says that they can suppress through sexual violence.”
Even if the legislation is approved on Thursday, the final decision to employ the measure will be decided by the judge in charge of the case.