The gruesome-sounding treatment for sex offenders, “chemical castration,” is being linked with Russia this week after news emerged that President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday urged that hormonal treatments for pedophiles be adopted in the country. Yet, this practice is also topical elsewhere: In South Korea, parliament adopted a castration law last year, and a judge in India proposed it earlier this month.

If adopted in Russia, the country would be far from alone in using the treatment. Not castration in the true sense – the treatment is designed to reduce the sex drive and thus make the individual less likely to re-offend, and is reversible – medical treatment of serious sex offenders is also allowed by several U.S. states, including the West Coast liberal outposts of California and Oregon. A number of European countries allow it on a voluntary basis, and Poland has a law that can force offenders to undergo hormone treatments on their release.

Medvedev apparently is backing the voluntary use of anti-sex-drive treatments, although what he’s quoted as saying suggests that he’s a bit vague on the distinction between punishment and rehabilitation: “Punishments should be as harsh as possible. The state should use all means possible, and a liberal approach [toward sex offenders] is totally unacceptable,” he said, according to RIA Novosti.

Ky Krauthamer

Ky Krauthamer is a senior editor at Transitions Online. Email:

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