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Judge calls for chemical castration
Sparks debate on suitable punishment for sex offenders
- Rita Joseph, New Delhi
- February 20, 2012
â€śCastration is the most befitting sentence which can be imposed on any pedophile or serial offender but the hands of this court are tied as the law does not provide for it,â€ť additional sessions judge Kamini Lau said while sentencing a man for kidnapping and raping his niece.
She suggested lawmakers explore an â€śalternative to conventional sentencing.â€ť
Many critics accused her of being too harsh.
Father Babu Joseph, spokesman of the Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Conference of India, said stringent punishment should be awarded for this sort of crime but maiming a person is â€śnot correct.â€ť
He said this form of punishment â€śis highly draconian and incompatible with our constitutional principles.â€ť
A few others, however, felt chemical castration would prove a deterrent.
Swami Agnivesh, head of the Bonded Labor Liberation Front, backed the judge, saying it would be a â€śvery, very effective solution and that the Law Commission should take steps to codify this into law.â€ť
He said pedophiles need to be taught a lesson, and the message should be loud and clear.
â€śBecause there is no exemplary punishment for such a reprehensible act, such cases are on the rise. Most cases go unreported or punished lightly,â€ť he said, adding, â€śhowever action of this kind should only be resorted toÂ in extreme cases.â€ť
Indian law gives only jail terms for sexual offenders. While countries such as the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany offer â€śchemical castrationâ€ť as punishment, says Sabina Peters, a law professor.
Meanwhile, psychiatrist Anita Hingorani says more must also be done to prevent abuse rather than just focusing on punishing an offender.
Most child molestation cases take place at home and are often hushed up, she said, adding that attitudes need to change and that victims and other family members need to be encouraged to speak out and report such abuses.