Korea expands use of chemical castration

Courts will now be able to order chemical castration for all rapists from Tuesday, as part of imposing tougher penalties against sex crimes.

Until now the hormone treatment has been a sentencing option only for child sex offenders, but can now apply to all convicted rapists through the legal revision, according to the Ministry of Justice Sunday. The treatment can also be ordered by a committee operating under the Ministry of Justice.

The bill, which was passed in December, comes into effect after a three-month legal probation, the ministry said. The ministry added that the new rule is also applicable for rapists who were convicted earlier.

According to the revised bill, rapists can be subject to up to 15 years of chemical treatment during sentencing or as part of their parole conditions. committee decisions are limited to three years.

In the first such sentence since the measure was first introduced in 2011, the Seoul Southern District Court earlier this year sentenced a repeated rapist of teenage girls to chemical castration. The court ordered the 31-year-old offender to undergo three years of chemical treatment as well as 200 hours of therapy and wear an electronic tracking ankle bracelet for 20 years.

The National Assembly in July 2011 passed a bill allowing the administration of libido-suppressing hormone medication for convicted child molesters who are over 19 years of age.

Advocates claim that the use of chemical castration is an effective and scientific method of reducing sexual crimes, while human rights activists and religious groups oppose it, saying it seriously infringes upon basic human rights.

The Constitutional Court is currently reviewing whether the chemical punishment is in violation of constitution and infringes basic human rights.