Friday, March 19, 2010

Unusual Methods to Curb Rape in Argentina

This seems problematic:

Officials in Argentina's Mendoza province have authorized chemical castration for rapists after a significant increase in sexual assaults last year.

Mendoza authorities convened a scientific legal committee and authorized the voluntary chemical castration by decree.

"By using medication that lowers the person's sexual desire and with psychological treatment, the person can be reintroduced into society without being a threat," Mendoza Governor Celso Jaque said.

Eleven convicted rapists in the province have agreed to the treatment in return for reduced sentences.

Several members of the legal committee said the treatment must be voluntary or it would violate international law and Argentina's constitution.

On the one hand, it is voluntary, and the focus seems to be on actually rehabilitating rapists, which is (at least in theory) one of the functions of the sentencing system. At the same time, I'm not really sure how useful this will be, particularly given that the effects are reversible, meaning serial rapists could return to raping people over time. I'm not a legal expert (and I don't even pretend to be one on television), but I'm curious as to what, if any, other measures officials in Mendoza decided to try to curb the number of rapes in the state before turning to this particular approach, and how much research/examination of the "solution" has taken place. It may work, but right now, it sounds somewhat draconian, and I'm not sure if it will really accomplish much.