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Is Castration A Just Punishment For Perpetrators Of Child Sexual Abuse?

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By Abhishek Jha

While dismissing the petition of a British national, an accused in a case of child sexual abuse, Justice N. Kirubakaran has suggested that the Central government consider castration as a punishment for child sexual abuse. He observed in his judgment that “though the castration looks barbaric, barbaric crimes should definitely attract barbaric models of punishment.” He made the suggestion, he said, because he found that the law is ineffective and incapable of addressing the menace.

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The demand for such measures of incapacitating the perpetrator of rape arise from the belief that rape is the result of a heightened libido. Such suggestions are part of the same patriarchal belief system that links rape with women’s dress and movement beyond a fixed hour. However rape, as Justice Verma Committee also noted, has more to do with establishing power over the victim. Castration, then, has little bearing on curbing of physical violence on women or children.

The HC judge also seems to have misplaced sense of how deterrence works. He assumes that a terrifying punishment would instill fear in a potential offender and stop him from committing the crime. However, it is not the knowledge of the punishment that deters criminals but the presence of a criminal justice system. People who sexually abuse children today do not do so because they don’t fear a smaller punishment. They do so because they feel confident – in the patriarchal atmosphere of the country – that the crime will not be reported and that there is even lesser chance of a conviction.

The failure of the law in curbing child sexual abuse, at which the judge expresses exasperation, stems from views not very different from that of the judge himself, who is reported to have said that women were equally responsible for rape. This is because in a large number of cases the rape accused or someone accused of child sexual abuse is either a relative or someone who is otherwise known to the victim. NCRB data for the year 2014 shows that in as much as 86% of cases of rape, the accused was known to the victim. What stops the victim from reporting the crime is the stigma inflicted upon them by our society. Reports of the police failing to register complaints are also commonplace. It is our patriarchal norms and their institutionalised manifestation in our police system that fail our efforts at deterring possible offenders.

These arguments should be sufficient to quell any doubts that we need such a punishment. However, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu chose – perhaps just for the heck of it – to laud the judgment. Therefore, before more such suggestions are made, Justice Kirubakaran should note that it is not only activists who would disapprove of the judgment. He failed to notice that his suggestion may not be commensurate with the recommendations of the members of the judiciary itself. The Justice Verma committee, comprising of two retired justices and advocate Gopal Subramanium, constituted to look into the possible amendment in criminal law related to sexual violence, had rejected the suggestion of using castration as a punitive measure. Noting Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, the committee had said, “it would be unconstitutional and inconsistent with basic human rights treaties for the State to expose any citizen without their consent to potentially dangerous medical side effects. For this reason, we do not recommend mandatory chemical castration of any type as a punishment for sex offenders.”

The castration-style of judgment is the very antithesis of justice, which assumes that in replying to barbarism with barbarism, in revenge, the ends of justice will be met. Such measures, on the contrary, tactically erode the responsibility of rehabilitating the victim as an important aspect of justice, an aspect highlighted by both the Law Commission and the Justice Verma committee. They are not only unnecessary but also dangerous.

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  1. Bharat

    Jha in you all articles you try to show yourself as being intellectuals
    but in reality you are not. You are not even 1 inch near, you miss
    that mark by light years. Stop showing yourself as intellectuals. People
    like you just keep writing and do nothing. I think chemical castaration
    is the only way we can stop these horrible monsters.. When these
    monster don’t care about small kids future, why we should care about
    them. People like you are abusing the freedom of speech and are the
    one who promoting these monsters. You guys support AIB fat guy whose
    tweets openly is insult and support these monster.. You guys are the one
    who break all rules and then blame corruption. Youth of India is the most
    stupid, who just complain and like to party instead of doing something for
    this society… I wish we don’t have youth like you guys who blame
    everything/evreyone and take pride and supporting things which might help crime
    and are afraid of strict rules.. Rape is rape and punishing is the only way
    to stop. Why a person will do bad things to kid who is weak, just to show
    he is strong. NO.. because he is sick and sick mind need to be thrown away from
    society… sick mind need a strong stick in order to keep them sane.. You guys drink
    and drive because you know you can get away. But if we throw you guys in jail for
    drink and drive and ask for two month salary fine, you guys can never dream to take
    risk.. If you can’t understand that, then please stop writing and supporting…

  2. saniya d

    Every men should know why some women supports chemical castration because they are envy of male organ and this is very much true and proved…These women wants to keep the criminal kept alive …ha ha ha.. how funny…women can give guarantee that this criminal will not attack the victim again? Rape is done by that person because of their mentality and their family environment so why these women targeting the male organ? male organ is not responsible for the rape and it is the type of that man and his family..why those women decides the type of punishment? women are demanding chemical castration for their mental satisfaction because they know very well if death penalty cannot solve this then chem castration cannot…
    why today young generation becomig ferosus and this is for their family when women separates father in law mother in law brother in law and sister in law and starts a nuclear family where they cannot give time and guidelines to their own children properly because grandfather grandmother uncle all are absent here….I think and this is true women are the destroyer of the society..

  3. saniya d

    Bharat ..See this and rply
    No one is supporting but women’s intention is very clear about demanding chem castration..Actually they want to control men through law as it already happened in national capital delhi…56% of rape case sexually abused case dowry case are filed false and this is not my declaration and it is done and it is declared by delhi women commission…So in this demanding punishment women are going again to misuse the law as for an example one friend here said we women put you in jail…funny? So Supreme court now decided the violence on women law will be changed immediately and it is in draft mode now.. I think the day is not so far when men are going to declare that they will not help any women on the road in the bus or in the train. Now the violence on men by women in india is much higher and the percentage of suicide is higher on men..Search the news or article on the internet u will get it.. So a new women deepika bhardwaj came to fight against women abusing on men…find on youtube..
    After this women are asking men for respecting women…ha ha ha ….

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