The Thai Senate passed the Violence-Related Reoffending Prevention Bill on Monday, allowing repeat sex offenders the voluntary option of undergoing chemical castration in exchange for shorter prison sentences. The bill was approved by 145 senators, with two abstentions, in the hopes that this will deter them from committing further sex crimes.
The Southeast Asian nation is set to join a small number of countries including Poland, Russia, The UK, South Korea, and some U.S states that practice chemical castration, a procedure in which the sex offender receives injections that temporarily reduce testosterone levels and libido.
According to a Thai PBS World report, the bill states that the anti-libidinal medication will only be prescribed with the approval of an internal medicine specialist, a psychiatrist specialist, as well as with the consent of the sex offender. Offenders will aslo have to wear electronic bracelets and a ten-year observation period.
VICE World News reports that according to Thailand’s corrections department, between 2013 and 2020, approximately 30% of convicted sex offenders who were released were known to have re-offended. As reports of sexual assault – especially those involving minors – continue to make headlines, chemical castration gathered a great amount of support among the Thai public.
However, chemical castration remains a controversial debate, with many arguing that it does not actually tackle the root cause of sexual violence.
Director of Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, Jaded Chouwilai, VICE World News that the gender equality advocacy group concerned with sexual violence believes chemical castration doesn’t tackle the issue at its root.
“It’s not useful because it doesn’t change the mindset of the offender,” says Chouwilai. “When the chemical treatment stops, they’re going to have the same mindset. We didn’t fix their mindset, they’re going to do it again.”
According to Thailand’s health ministry, over 31 000 women were raped in 2013, the majority of whom were university and school students. Chouwilai said that authorities need to tackle the root of sexual violence by addressing a widespread culture of victim-blaming and normalising sexual violence.