Joko Widodo: Source: Kremlin Media
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has approved tough new punishments for child sex offenders, including the death penalty and chemical castration, after the gang rape and murder of a Sumatran girl.
“This regulation is intended to overcome the crisis caused by sexual violence against children,” Widodo told the media. “Sexual crimes against children are extraordinary crimes, because they threaten the lives of children.”
Paedophiles could also be forced to wear tagging devices after their release from prison under the emergency decree.
The presidential decree brings the punishments into immediate effect, although MPs could subsequently overturn it.
The move, however, was generally welcomed.
“Castration is intended to have a deterrent effect and prevent repeat sexual offences,” said Abdul Malik Haramain of the National Awakening Party, which is part of the ruling coalition.
In April the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl by a drunken group of teenagers as she walked home from school on Sumatra.
Her battered body was found three days later, bound and naked. Seven teenagers, aged 16 and 17, were jailed this month.
The attack led to calls for harsher punishments for paedophiles and protests in Jakarta.
Some activists condemned Widodo’s decrees, suggesting the punishments were a knee-jerk response.
Hartoyo, a gay rights activist who has campaigned against the new regulation, said the punishments were an “act of vengeance”.
“It only shows that the government is panicking and has no real understanding about sexual violence,” said the campaigner.
The attack was compared to the fatal gang rape of a student on a Delhi bus in 2012, which caused protests and resulted in reform of India’s rape laws.
Indonesia has faced international criticism for using capital punishment against drug traffickers, especially by executing seven foreign convicts by firing squad in 2015.
Previously, the longest sentence for rape, including that of a child, was 14 years.
Chemical castration is used in Poland, Australia, Russia and some American states, often in exchange for more lenient sentences. In 2011, South Korea became the first country in Asia to legalise its use.
“Chemical castration risks offering a false solution, and a simple one, to what is inevitably a complex and difficult problem,” said Heather Barr of Human Rights Watch.
“Protecting children from sexual abuse requires a complex and carefully calibrated set of responses.”
Indonesia’s media has previously reported that microchips could be implanted in paedophiles’ legs when they leave prison.