South Korea Allows Chemical Castration Of Sex Offenders

| by Michael Doherty
A street in Seoul.A street in Seoul.

South Korea is attempting to expand a law allowing chemical castration as a punishment for sex offenders.

Under South Korea's current law, convicted sex offenders can be sentenced to chemical castration for assaulting minors under the age of 16. The expanded law would allow chemical castration of offenders whose victims were as old as 19, according to The Minaret Online. The process, which involves injecting offenders with chemicals that reduce libido and prevent the ability to gain an erection, is temporary, and stopping the injections will reverse the castrating effects.

Critics of the law argue that the process violates human rights, and point to side effects that can be painful and long-term, such as osteoporosis. John Stinneford, a law professor at the University of Florida, said in a paper on the subject of chemical castration that the process "will cease to be merely disabling, and may become something more like torture." In the same paper, Stinneford suggests that chemical castration would be a cruel and unusual punishment, violating the Eighth Amendment in the United States Constitution.

In February, South Korea sentenced a sex offender to chemical castration for the first time since a 2013 review of the law led to the country's constitutional court upholding its legality, according to the Korea Herald. Kim Seon-yong, the convict, was sentenced to 7 years of injections of libido-reducing hormones, alongside therapy and 17 years in prison. The man was originally serving a prison sentence of 15 years for rape, but his sentence was expanded when he escaped while receiving medical treatment and sexually abused another victim.

Amnesty International has spoken out against chemical castration as a punishment, reports CNN. In a statement released after Moldova's legalization of the practice, the human rights group argued that the process was "incompatible with human rights, which are the foundation of any civilized democratic society."

Proponents of the law have said that the results speak for themselves. "It's clear the drugs work," said Don Grubin, a professor of forensic psychiatry at Newcastle University

"If you look at men, they do reduce sex drive drastically," Grubin added. "They do reduce re-offending in the men."

At least nine U.S. states, including Texas and Florida, have laws allowing for elective chemical castration.

Sources: The Minaret Online, Korea Herald, CNN / Photo credit: Seoul-street11/Flickr

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