Should rapists be castrated?

Should rapists be castrated?

The new law was published in the Official Gazette a couple of days ago: From now on, sex criminals will be “chemically castrated.” 

Several countries in the world already practice this, but it is a first in Turkey. Some people consider this a big step in the fight against sex crimes, saying it will act as a deterrent. Others say this practice is a violation of human rights. 

The latter group argues that crime cannot be prevented with another crime. They say that unless you fight and overcome the male-dominated ideology dominating society, this issue cannot be prevented. 

I will write on all the different perspectives in my column in the coming days, but today let’s listen to lawyer Ceren Şarman. 

Şarman fully supports the practice of the chemical castration method for rapists. She says that six months ago, the Constitutional Court annulled a clause on sexual abuse, stating that “A jail sentence of a minimum 16 years should be given to child rapists.” In other words, the court considered 16 years too high for such a crime. 

“There was also a distinction between children related to the age of 15. In the past, if the child was under 15 a sentence was given regardless of whether there was ‘consent’ or not. But the Constitutional Court said, ‘No, 15 is too high. A child of 13 or 14 years old can also give consent.’ These two decisions were disastrous steps in the fight against sex crimes,” she said. 

It is almost like the Constitutional Court said different sentences should be given to someone who has raped a three-year-old and someone who has raped a 14-year-old. 

“Exactly,” said Şarman. “But both of them are children. Whether a 50-year-old rapes a 14-year-old or a three-year-old, the psychological consequences are the same. Considering all this, chemical castration is, in my opinion, a huge step forward in the fight against sex crimes. This method is practiced in parts of the U.S.; while sex offenders are also registered and exposed. I have argued that different methods should be practiced in our country because jail sentences are sometimes hugely reduced, to the point where they are far from being a deterrent. Some offenders receive a sentence of five years in jail. Others serve between two or three years in jail and then continue to commit the same crimes once they are set free.”

I asked Şarman whether Turkish men can be prevented with such a method as chemical castration. “I think so,” she said. “The masculinity of men in Turkey is regarded as very important. Having the option that such a method may be applied could work to dissuade them. Those who are worried about giving up their sexuality will definitely shy away from committing this crime now.”  

This method is practiced in Poland, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. The medication is ejected into the body in small doses to reduce a person’s sexuality, and it is totally destroyed over time. Not all practices are the same. In some countries it is up to a person’s own wish for this method to be practiced. In Turkey, according to the new law, it will be down to doctors. If there are side effects doctors may, for instance, decide on “physical castration.”

Against such a risk, how could the crime of rape still continue? Lawyer Şarman pointed out that certain people commit this crime continuously because they cannot control themselves. Others regard it as their right because they live in a male-dominated society. “For this reason, chemical castration is an appropriate method,” she said. “Because sexuality is oppressed in our country, people cannot live their sexuality and therefore there are many rapes.” 

Those who are against chemical castration regard it as a punishment against human rights. Şarman disagrees that it is against either the European Convention on Human Rights or the Turkish Constitution. 

“When the safety of society and the individual’s right to live are compared, then the safety of society is to be protected. We are not talking about an individual’s right to live. We are talking about an individual’s right to a quality life. We are talking about the elimination of the sexuality of a person who committed rape, because that person poses a threat to others. For this reason, I am saying that public health, public safety and public morals are superior to an individual’s right to a quality life. As a result of the law, security will be provided for many women and children who are not able to defend themselves,” she told me.