The Kaieteur News of 7th December 2018, under caption “Man gets life for raping one year old.” Summed -up what a challenging year 2018 was for parents and children in Guyana. It represented the embarrassing frequency, the willingness of too many among us, to reach into cribs and primary schools and take advantage of the defenseless, to satisfy our depravity.
So, as a society and a region, we are forced to relook at our chosen responses employed thus far, for dealing with child rapist.
Generally, CARICOM countries predominantly rely on the creation of registers of sex offenders, counselling and the justice system to deliver us from this scourge. As can be deduced, these are all reactive approaches, and they have not been able to bring about substantial success, whether individually or collectively.
A single letter to the editor will not allow for a meaningful examination on why this failure, so some information from various CARICOM countries will have to suffice.
In Jamaica in 2012, an 18-month old baby boy died of internal damage after being raped by his uncle. In Trinidad and Tobago between May 2015 and February 2016, 10.1 percent of all sexual abuse cases against boys involved toddlers – boys three years and younger.
In a study of the situation in the Eastern Caribbean, the abuse of babies was reported. In the developed west where there is reliance on similar responses to this plague, things are no way different.
In the United Kingdom and England specifically between 2016 and 2017, police recorded 6009 rape of children aged under 13 years. In Northern Island in October 2018, a two-week-old baby was in intensive care in a Belfast hospital after being raped.
Here in the USA, Dakota County in 2010 a nine-month old girl was brutally raped. In fact, a Bureau of Justice statistics for 1991-1996 revealed that of every seven sexual assault reported to law enforcement one victim was under age six.
And if you think this madness only affects the west and CARICOM, consider this, in South Africa in 2002, an eight-month old was reported gang raped by four men and had to under-go reconstructive surgery.
In India, with New Delhi likely numbered among the rape capitals of the world; after some of the more recent brutal and sadistic rape of toddlers Justice Kirubakaran in 2015 was forced to suggest that castration be considered as additional punishment for child rapists.
Since, we are forced to agree that all the well-used approaches have given us little reprieve from this abomination, perhaps more consideration should be given to Justice Kirubakaran’s suggestion. Indeed, he is not without support.
In recent times, it is this general dissatisfaction with the long tried approaches that has led to the developed countries adding a medical component to their arsenal of responses. Primarily this addition takes the form of increased use of chemical castration as an alternative sentencing measure for this crime.
In Britain, Matthew Hole house informs us that around 100 child sex offenders underwent this treatment. Similarly, this alternative sentence is offered in Canada and some states in the USA.
To date California, Florida, Georgia and Montana have chemical castration legislation laws.
In California in 2000, a sex offender – Shannon Coleman agreed to undergo chemical castration. Coleman had admitted to fondling a 12-year-old girl and masturbating and having sex with a 15-year-old.
Same was true in 2014 for Gordon Stuckless in Canada. Stuckless was being sentenced for sexually abusing 18 boys – he also chose chemical castration over a long prison sentence. In all these countries, reports on its effects on reoffending figures/rates have been favourable.
Studies in Europe and Canada have shown that with its use, repeat offenders rate has dropped from 80% to four percent. Reports from the Scandinavian countries suggest its use can cut rates among re-offenders from 40% to five percent.
And it is of some interest to note that the procedure is also in use in South Korea and that female parliamentarians in Zimbabwe are calling for its use.
Civil liberties groups oppose castration in any form being used as an alternative sentencing. They argue it is a violation of prisoners’ civil rights. But a worthy response to this concern is offered by the British Psychologist – Dr. Lowenstein who noted that “a child’s right to protection is far more morally important than the freedom of pedophiles.” So, what do I suggest our position on this issue be, here in Guyana?
It would seem to me that at least a discussion on the merits and demerits of introducing chemical castration as an alternative punishment for child sexual offenders in Guyana is warranted. We must ask ourselves – is it morally acceptable to use this option?
Does the use of this procedure make financial sense? If we answer ‘yes,’ to both of these questions, we should move to implement same.
Further, I would suggest that at its inception this alternative sentence should not be mandatory for first time offenders. At sentencing, first time offenders should be given a choice – castration (sometimes coupled with short prison time) or lengthy imprisonment?
Chemical castration would allow for the guilty party to continue to work, take care of his family and make restitution to the offended party. Further, when given the option, those choosing chemical castration as against life imprisonment, must pay for the procedure. Government will pay initially, but should be refunded when the convicted persons resume productive work or, if he has worth to the cost of the operation, same would be forfeited.
Thus, by so doing, hardworking Guyanese will be relieved of the burden of paying for the offender’s operation, upkeep, and for those members of his/her family who would otherwise need public assistance in his/her absence.
Mr. Editor, I am aware that as a human being, and especially if we hold, that as humans our first duty is procreation, one experiences a certain level of apprehension for the use of castration – physical or chemical. But the fact is, based upon our efforts thus far and the seeming rise in child rape, we have no choice but to consider the use of chemical castration, at least in the short term.
The permanent and more satisfying solution for bringing an end to this beastly act of child rape is for us to, as a society, find a way of stop raising predators. Recently, an honest observer mourned the fact that one of the things prevalent today is the seeming lack of empathy in many of us, we just don’t care how our actions affect others.
This lack of respect of others – child or adult, I think, is the father of this sin. If I am right, then the challenge for us is how do we reestablish this respect and concern for others in societies where alienation is prevalent, where people are constantly moving and relationships are fleeting.
But, even if we can envisage our adoption of a way of life that leads us to this much desired condition, its realization will take time – at least 30 years. Until then, chemical castration can offer us some reprieve over the short term.
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