Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New York Times reports on Czech castration furor

Last month, I reported on the controversy in Europe over Czechoslovakia's castration of convicted sex offenders. Yesterday, the New York Times ran a feature report, excerpted here:

... Whether castration can help rehabilitate violent sex offenders has come under new scrutiny after the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee last month called surgical castration “invasive, irreversible and mutilating” and demanded that the Czech Republic stop offering the procedure to violent sex offenders. Other critics said that castration threatened to lead society down a dangerous road toward eugenics.

The Czech Republic has allowed at least 94 prisoners over the past decade to be surgically castrated. It is the only country in Europe that uses the procedure for sex offenders. Czech psychiatrists supervising the treatment — a one-hour operation that involves removal of the tissue that produces testosterone — insist that it is the most foolproof way to tame sexual urges in dangerous predators suffering from extreme sexual disorders.

Surgical castration has been a means of social control for centuries. In ancient China, eunuchs were trusted to serve the imperial family inside the palace grounds; in Italy several centuries ago, youthful male choir members were castrated to preserve their high singing voices.

These days it can be used to treat testicular cancer and some advanced cases of prostate cancer.

Now, more countries in Europe are considering requiring or allowing chemical castration for violent sex offenders. There is intense debate over whose rights take precedence: those of sex offenders, who could be subjected to a punishment that many consider cruel, or those of society, which expects protection from sexual predators....
The full article is online HERE. My Feb. 15 coverage of the issue (with links to other related stories) is HERE.
Image: Eunuch, 1749 - Wikimedia Public Domain

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