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Thread: The unkindest cut: a Czech solution for sex offenders

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    Elite Member Cali's Avatar
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    Default The unkindest cut: a Czech solution for sex offenders

    A doctor makes an incision in a man's scrotal sac and, deftly wielding his scalpel, quickly removes both testicles. In the Czech Republic, that simple operation is the punishment for male sex offenders. But to the Council of Europe, the region's leading human-rights body, the procedure is "invasive, irreversible and mutilating." In a report issued last week, the council called the punishment "degrading" and demanded it be scrapped immediately.

    Over the past decade, at least 94 prisoners have undergone the treatment in the Czech Republic, the only country in Europe that continues to surgically castrate sex offenders. The Czech government insists the procedure is a medical issue, one that permanently reduces testosterone levels to lower an offender's sexual urges. And officials say it is performed only at the request of the prisoners themselves. (See pictures of prison life.)

    But the Council of Europe — whose Committee for the Prevention of Torture investigated the Czech policy — says it can be described as medical intervention only if the genitalia are diseased or damaged. "Surgical castration is no longer a generally accepted medical intervention in the treatment of sex offenders," the council's report said.

    The Czech law has a long pedigree. Castration as punishment dates back thousands of years and crosses all world cultures. The methods have evolved from brutal knife swipes that removed entire genitalia to chemical treatments. Drugs that lower the testosterone, dampen the sex drive and inhibit erections are now available in Great Britain, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and many American states, but prisoners must volunteer for the treatment before the drugs are administered.

    Despite many studies of the effectiveness of castration — both surgical and chemical — the results are inconclusive. Some surveys suggest castration can dramatically reduce recidivism. One 1989 survey in Germany of 104 voluntary castrates showed a 75% drop in sexual interest, libido, erection and ejaculation. But measuring such changes is notoriously difficult and often depends on the subjective self-reports of sex offenders. A 1989 Psychological Bulletin study concluded that "the recidivism rate for treated offenders is not lower than that for untreated offenders; if anything, it tends to be higher." Many other studies emphasize the mental nature of deviant sexual interests, which cannot be cured through surgery. Fred S. Berlin, associate professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, argues that even if most sexual offenders cannot be cured, many can be successfully treated through counseling. "It depends on the availability of adequate community-based resources, in some instances following a period of residential care," he says.

    In its report, the Council of Europe also criticized the fact that the Czechs often use the punishment on first-time, nonviolent offenders, like exhibitionists. Another issue: the Czech penal system effectively forces many prisoners into accepting the procedure out of fear they will be jailed for life if they do not, according to the council. "Given the context in which the intervention is offered, it is questionable whether consent to the option of surgical castration will always be truly free and informed," it said. Investigators found five cases of it being performed on legally incapacitated offenders who were not capable of making an informed decision. They found only two convicts who had spontaneously volunteered for castration.

    Civil rights groups say any kind of castration, even if reversible, could take society down the road to eugenics. A 1985 U.S. Supreme Court ruling said that involuntary surgical castration constituted cruel and unusual punishment. David Fathi, head of Human Rights Watch's U.S. program in Washington, says the Czech methods not only defy medical convention but also are an affront to civil liberties. "Any irreversible punishment is a fundamental violation of human rights. And any kind of mutilation is barbaric," he says.

    Fathi says rehabilitation of sex offenders is far more effective than castration. "There are no easy answers," he says. "But castration does not work any more than cutting off hands treats kleptomania."
    The Unkindest Cut: A Czech Solution for Sex Offenders - TIME

    Hmm. I think I'm too shocked to form an opinion on this one yet. Thoughts?

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Maybe it's inappropriate for exhibitionists but castration to punish any sexual offense involving children, or repeated rape offenders sounds fair to me.

    And that Fathi guy loses all credibility with me if he seriously thinks child molesters can be rehabilitated.

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    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
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    I don't believe in sex offenders being 'rehabilitated'. I just don't it's possible.

    Having said that, I'm torn. Like the article said, it's more than the ability of the sex offender to become erect/ejaculate. For instance, castrated pedophiles find other ways to abuse children, like object insertion. And it seems excessive to use it on exhibitionists (even though a lot of them escalate), and doing the circumstances of obtaining 'consent' seem murky (and doing it on people of diminished mental faculties is very disturbing).

    Funny how I'm discussing consent in the context of people who disregard that word when it comes to their victims. Personally, I'm a lot more comfortable with the idea of locking them up for life-if the system is harsh enough on sex offenders for this to be an option, why offer castration at all?
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    Elite Member yoyoma's Avatar
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    Whatever works...

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    A*O
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    I worry that these people will find alternative 'instruments' with which to abuse their victims. And it won't stop the extreme violence that rapists often use. It may work with some but a safer method of dealing with them permanently would be a firing squad.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calimoonchild View Post
    A doctor makes an incision in a man's scrotal sac and, deftly wielding his scalpel, quickly removes both testicles. In the Czech Republic, that simple operation is the punishment for male sex offenders. But to the Council of Europe, the region's leading human-rights body, the procedure is "invasive, irreversible and mutilating." In a report issued last week, the council called the punishment "degrading" and demanded it be scrapped immediately.
    And what about the victim? Isn't their experience "invasive, irreversible and mutilating"?

    I'm torn about eye-for-an-eye punishments. On one hand criminals should get a taste of how it felt to their victims. On the other, given how many times someone has been wrongly convicted, incarceration might be the best route.

    I'm not sure about rehabilitation, some just cannot be fixed, but there should definitely be some sort of restitution to society. At the very least have inmates pay their own way through prison with hard labour.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Please spay and neuter your perverts. Works for me.
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    Elite Member Lobelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aella View Post
    I don't believe in sex offenders being 'rehabilitated'. I just don't it's possible.
    I agree.

    As for castration, I would be interested in some follow up studies to see if it actually deters crime. I'm not sure of my opinion since I don't know if it works.
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    A*O
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    I know a forensic psychologist who works with sex offenders and he says that rehabilitation is impossible. It's been tried over and over again and they always reoffend eventually. He believes they are hard wired that way and just as we cannot comprehend how sex with a child could ever be considered normal, they can't comprehend why it's abnormal. He believes that once they are incarcerated the only safe thing to do is throw away the key. Depressing, eh?
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    Elite Member Cali's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A*O View Post
    I know a forensic psychologist who works with sex offenders and he says that rehabilitation is impossible. It's been tried over and over again and they always reoffend eventually. He believes they are hard wired that way and just as we cannot comprehend how sex with a child could ever be considered normal, they can't comprehend why it's abnormal. He believes that once they are incarcerated the only safe thing to do is throw away the key. Depressing, eh?
    seriously depressing and shockingly unsurprising.

    I'm very adept at empathy - i can empathize with other people, or rationalize - not enough to make it okay, but enough to at least understand their fucked up thinking enough to have a starting point into a situation. People who act sexually on CHILDREN are seriously fucked up. So disturbed that I dont understand them, nor do I care to. Child molesters escape me. i absolutely do agree that those who commit these crimes are gone. and let me be clear - by child molestation, I mean victims who are under the age of 9.

    I'm not excusing those who act on people older than the age of 9, but it gets into an uncomfortable grey zone that is outside of this debate.

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    Elite Member yanna's Avatar
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    I really doubt that this method works and it's quite simply barbaric. I don't believe that it should be allowed within the EU.

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    I would be surprised if it worked - the crimes are as much about power as they are about sex, probably even more so. These offenders will just find new ways to satisfy their needs, and my concern would be that the level of violence they would use in committing a crime would escalate to compensate for the lack of physical sexual thrill.

    Also, what about those cases where someone has been wrongly accused and convicted? It's not like you can stitch their balls back on three years down the line when evidence comes to light that they are innocent.

    I prefer the "lock them away for life" option.

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    Elite Member NicoleWasHere's Avatar
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    Why not just cut his cock off??

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    Quote Originally Posted by McJag View Post
    Please spay and neuter your perverts. Works for me.

    I'll drink to that!
    Really it is a good idea. Something needs to be done to these perverts.
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    I would never say it out loud, but why not?
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