An Australian task force is deciding whether or not to approve the use of chemical agents to castrate convicted child sex offenders deemed to be a high risk for reoffending once they leave prison.
Current law states that courts in the western portion of Australia and the state of Victoria may order potentially dangerous pedophiles to go through with the treatment as part of conditions of release, The Guardian reported.
In New South Wales, convicted sex offenders can voluntarily go through with the procedure while in prison, but the state’s Justice Minister is looking to take that one step further. Tory Grant cited “protection from abuse” for children as his reasoning for the chemical castration proposal to become law.
“One of the worrying statistics that came out of our investigation is that up to 17 percent of child sex offenders are likely to reoffend in two years. We must do everything possible to reduce that figure,” Grant said to Australia’s Broadcasting Corporation.
Chemical castration would involve using anti-androgen medications that lower the level of testosterone. In other words, the drug is meant to reduce sexual desires and behaviors.
However, medical experts are questioning the effectiveness of the practice and the legality behind passing such a law. Forensic psychiatrist Dr. John Kasinathan believes that the drug may not successfully work on all patients.
“The prescription of anti-androgen medication is a clinical decision and relies on medical knowledge and specific knowledge of the patient in question,” he said.
“(Our) code of ethics states that psychiatrists shall seek valid consent from their patients before undertaking any procedure or treatment,” he added.
According to Australia’s Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey, the most common case of child sex abuse was by a male relative who was not the child’s father or stepfather. Family friends and neighbors came in second and third on the list, respectively.
“I understand there’s some reservations by some in the medical field in relation to the effectiveness of chemical castration, of the use of anti-libido medication,” Grant said.
“It is working in other areas and I want it to work here, because we need to have every sentencing option to protect every child from the predators that are sex offenders.”
The task force will meet later in the year to finalize their plans.