Prison or castration for sex offenders in Germany, Russia

The Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee recommended Wednesday that Germany should cease the practice of surgical castration of sex offenders.

The German government currently uses surgical castration as an alternative treatment for high risk or repeat offenders. According to the Washington Post, the German government noted that surgical castration is seen as treatment rather than punishment. It said the procedure is strictly voluntary and the process can only be initiated by the sex offender himself, who must be at least 25.

In a report released in Strasbourg, France, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture said that  it has “fundamental objections” regarding the “irreversible physical effects.” They also noted, “surgical castration of detained sexual offenders could easily be considered as amounting to degrading treatment.”

Clearly, castration is degrading treatment and inhumane, but does it work? The German government pointed to a 1997 study of sex offenders who had been castrated which indicated only a 3 percent recidivism rate. The same study showed a 46 percent rate of reoffending without castration.

Chemical castration, in which testosterone suppressing drugs are administered to curb sexual drive, is being offered to offenders in several countries.  Currently, the UK, Czech Republic, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, and some states in the US have passed laws allowing chemical castration.

In Russia, lawmakers recently passed stricter laws to deter pedophilia. According to an article by FirstPost World, pedophiles will face chemical castration, life imprisonment and psychiatric drug treatment. Convicts in other types of sex crimes involving minors will have the option of voluntarily seeking chemical castration when pleading for parole.

Similar to Germany, Russia cited a 2010 study that noted 98 percent of convicted pedophiles repeat the offense after release, where only 3 precent repeat after chemical castration.

The stricter laws in Russia come as a response to the increased number of sex crimes involving children. Poland is the only other country that allows for “forced” chemical castration. India is also reportedly seeking ways to introduce castration into law as a punishment for sexual offenses.