JAKARTA - Indonesia's Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Yembisa said on Tuesday (Dec 15) that her ministry was finalising a policy to punish sex offenders with chemical castration, with implementation slated for next year.
"We hope to announce the regulation in the near future," Yohana was quoted by Antara news agency as saying, adding that chemical castration would serve to have a deterrent effect.
The government plans to issue a government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) to enact the policy in light of a rising number of cases of sexual abuse of children.
In October, the body of a nine-year-old girl was discovered stuffed in a cardboard box in Jakarta, and an autopsy revealed that she had been repeatedly sexually assaulted. A 39-year-old man was later arrested as the suspect.
Last year, five cleaners at international schools were given jail terms ranging from seven to eight years for sexually assaulting kindergarten students in Jakarta.
Under current laws, child sex abuse is punishable by 15 years in jail but in many cases paedophiles have been handed short sentences.
President Joko Widodo, Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and other prominent figures have signalled their support for introducing chemical castration as punishment.
Yohana acknowledged the arguments against the policy raised by human rights activists, but insisted that her ministry had held wide-ranging discussions and studies in the process of formulating the regulation.
Chemical castration, she said, would be an option for convicted sex offenders, with a number of methods currently under discussion.
She added that her ministry had compiled a list of sexual offences punishable by chemical castration, including sexual abuse of children.
Indonesia will join several countries including Sweden, Denmark, Canada, the United States, Poland and South Korea which have already legalised chemical castration as a punishment for sex offenders.