Though the impassioned pleas for chemical castration of rape accused have reached a crescendo in the wake of the gruesome gangrape of a 23-year-old girl, a Delhi additional sessions judge had suggested the same close to two years back.
“My hands are tied since I am bound by the law of the land which only provides for imprisonment not less than seven years but may be for life or for a term which may extend to 10 years and also fine,” Delhi additional sessions judge Kamini Lau had said while expressing helplessness in handing down a befitting punishment to a man convicted of raping his minor stepdaughter.
“My conscience, however, tells me that this is a crime which is required to be addressed differently and a full public debate with regard to imposition of castration (both surgical and chemical) as an alternative punishment for the offence of rape and molestation is the crying need of the hour,” Lau had said in April 2011.
Terming rape as a “growing menace” which the administration was finding hard to tackle, Lau had directed that her judgment be sent to the ministry of law and national commission for women to consider her suggestion of chemical castration as an alternative punishment.
However, her suggestion is still hanging fire.
“It is time that we as a civil society stand up and also think of a law similar to the one existing in many developed countries providing for surgical and chemical castrations,” Lau had said in April 2011.
Should India change its rape laws to prescribe chemical castration as a punishment?
“It has to be certainly considered and debated,” says senior advocate Meenakshi Lekhi.
“Chemical castration can be prescribed for repeat offenders and child rapists,” Lekhi says, adding, “Even death penalty should be prescribed for rapists who inflict severe bodily injury to the victim.”
The most common drugs used for chemical castration are cyproterone acetate, used in European countries, and MPA (medroxy progesterone acetate) which is the preferred drug in the US.
Many developed countries - such as the US, UK, Germany and Israel — have experimented with surgical and chemical castration of rapists and molesters, particularly serial offenders, child molesters and pedophiles.
Some developed nations use chemical castration as a condition for probation or for the purpose of imposing lesser punishment in cases of plea bargaining. Some US states allow shorter sentences for sex criminals who agree to volunteer for chemical castration.