Last week, senators in Thailand approved the use of chemical castration for sex offenders in order to cut down on sexual offenses and abuse in the country. If you’ve never heard of this approach, you may think it’s a new thing, or this type of punishment is only done in third-world countries, such as Thailand, but, in fact, it is used in some states in the U.S., as well as other countries around the world.
What is Chemical Castration for Sex Offenders?
You’ve probably heard of hormone therapy, which can be used for various medical issues, such as prostate cancer or breast cancer. What you may not know, is that hormone therapy is another name for chemical castration. Hormone therapy can be helpful for cancers that feed off of sex hormones because this procedure essentially stops sex hormones through the use of drugs or chemicals.
Enter sex offenders. Because high levels of testosterone increase sex drive, the use of hormone therapy for people who have a history of sexual abuse or other sexual offences offers a solution–the chemical Medroxyprogesterone acetate. Lower the testosterone, lower the desire to offend, right?
With a list of 16,413 men who were convicted in Thailand of sex offenses and then released from prison between 2013 and 2020, more than a fourth reoffended, according to the Thai corrections department. That’s why on Monday, July 11, 2022, 145 senators voted to pass a bill through the house that allows the use of chemical castration for sex offenders. Although the bill still has to pass through the house and must receive royal endorsement, if passed, convicted offenders who are believed to be a risk of reoffending will be offered a reduced prison sentence if they take the option of this chemical injection.
That said, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said, “I want this law to pass quickly. I don’t want to see news about bad things happening to women again.”
When chemical castration for sex offenders takes place and the criminals are eventually released, they must still wear electronic bracelets and undergo monitoring for 10 years.
Opposing voices, such as the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, which is an organization that attempts to address sexual violence, are not for the law. The director of this foundation, Jaded Chouwilai said, “Convicts should be rehabilitated by changing their mindset while in prison.”
Chouwilai doesn’t believe that chemical castration for sex offenders will address the real problem, explaining, “To use punishment like execution or injected castration reinforces the idea that offender can no longer be rehabilitated.”
If passed, Thailand will be following in the steps of parts of the U.S. Poland, Estonia, South Korea, and Russia.
In the U.S., chemical castration for sex offenders began in California in 1996, where both physical and chemical castration were options for sex offenders reentering society after being in prison.
Several other states have adopted similar laws. For example, in 2019 in Alabama a bill for chemical castration for sex offenders passed almost exactly two years ago, in June of 2019, in order to target child sex predators with offenses against children under 13 years old.
But that doesn’t mean the bill wasn’t controversial. Watch a news report on the debate in Alabama:
A representative in Alabama, Republican Steve Hurst, made it clear that he was for the bill at the time.
Hurst told NBC regarding chemical castration for sex offenders, “If they’re going to mark these children for life, they need to be marked for life.”