Indonesian man sentenced to chemical castration says he would prefer death penalty

Illustration only. Photo: David Martinez
Illustration only. Photo: David Martinez

The first Indonesian convict to be sentenced to chemical castration says he is refusing the punishment amid doubts that the authorities actually have the means to carry it out.

Allowed out of his isolated cell for an authorized interview with the media yesterday, convicted child molester Muh Aris bin Syukur said he would actually prefer capital punishment over chemical castration for his crimes.

“If they inject me, I will refuse. Because the effect lasts a lifetime. That’s what my friends tell me,” the East Java native said, as quoted by Sindonews, adding that he will refuse to sign a release for the punishment.

“I choose the death penalty instead of [chemical castration]. Or life imprisonment is fine as well. If I can ask for it, then 20 years [is preferable].”

Chemical castration, or the use of hormonal drugs to lower sex offenders’ sex drives, as a punishment, is already utilized in a number of countries based on the idea being that it should reduce the risk of recidivism. But studies have shown that the punishment is only effective in controlling the sexual urges of some sex offenders and less so in others.

As for Aris’ concern about chemical castration’s possible permanent effects, studies have shown that the effects are generally reversible once treatment is discontinued.

Aris was found guilty of raping nine girls from 2015-2018 in Mojokerto. He was arrested in October 2018 after he was caught on a CCTV camera molesting his latest victim.

While prosecutors did not demand chemical castration in their indictment of Aris in court, the Mojokerto District Court nonetheless handed down the punishment on top of his 12-year prison sentence. The ruling was upheld by the city’s High Court. 

Aris is the first and so far only convicted child molester in Indonesia to be given the chemical castration sentence in court. However, given that the punishment has no precedent in Indonesia, the Mojokerto Prosecutors Office say they have no means yet to chemically castrate Aris so no date for the execution of the sentence has yet been announced.

The Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI), which rejected the government’s request that they be the “executors” of the punishment, reiterated their stance in Aris’ case by refusing to chemically castrate the convicted rapist.

Chemical castration as a punishment was ratified into law in Indonesia after the shockingly brutal gang rape and murder of a teenage girl in Bengkulu in 2016. Activists say that the threat of severe punishment has not been as successful a deterrent as the government hoped, as sexual assault against children continue to be a serious problem in Indonesia.

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