A protester holds up a poster during a demonstration in March outside the presidential palace in Indonesian capital Jakarta to demand parliament and the government pass an anti-sexual violence law. (Photo by Konradus Epa/ucanews.com)
An Indonesian court has for the first time sentenced a convicted pedophile to be chemically castrated.
Mojokerto District Court in East Java handed down the sentence to Muhammad Aris bin Syukur, 20, this week after he was found guilty of raping nine young girls. The court also jailed him for 12 years and fined him US$7,200.
It was the first time a court had sentenced a man to chemical castration since the punishment was introduced in 2016.
“The decision aims to ensure the victims get justice,” Rudy Hartono, head of Mojokerto District Court, told reporters on Aug. 26.
However, prosecutors admitted that the sentence could not be carried out immediately because the means by which to castrate Aris is not yet available.
The Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) said none of its members would carry it out
“We believe that child sex offenders should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, but we cannot administer castrations because doing so will violate our oath to uphold the medical profession’s code of ethics,” Pudjo Hartono, the head of IDI’s professional development council, told news portal BenarNews.
Aris said he would rather die than be castrated. “I would prefer the death penalty as this will make me suffer a lifetime,” the rapist told reporters.
Aris began raping minors in Mojokerto in 2015 and was arrested in October last year after an attack was caught on CCTV footage.
The government’s Witness and Victim Protection Agency says sex attacks against children are on the rise, with 236 cases this year as of May compared with only 25 cases in 2016.
Dominican Sister Natalia Sumarni, secretary of the Indonesian Bishops’ Gender and Woman Empower Secretariat, said she supported the sentence despite the Indonesian Catholic Church stating it does not back the punishment.
“It is important that he [Aris] be punished this way so that he does not sexually abuse children again,” she told ucanews.com.
Arist Merdeka Sirait, chairman of the National Commission of Child Protection, also supported the sentence. “We welcome a strict punishment for predators who are destroying our children’s future,” Sirait told ucanews.com.
Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Yembise hoped the sentence would have a deterrent effect on sexual predators. She said society should “not tolerate sexual violence and criminality against children.”
However, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said castration amounted to a human rights violation and called for the sentence to be reviewed.