Chemical castration

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Chemical castration is castration via drugs, whether to reduce libido and sexual activity, to treat cancer, or otherwise. Unlike surgical castration, where the gonads are removed through an incision in the body,[1] chemical castration does not remove organs, nor is it a form of sterilization.[2] Chemical castration is generally considered reversible when treatment is discontinued, although permanent effects in body chemistry can sometimes be seen, as in the case of bone density loss increasing with length of use of DMPA.

A number of countries use chemical castration on rapists and pedophiles, often in return for reduced sentences. Historically, chemical castration has been forced on a wide range of groups such as homosexuals and transgender people.


Chemical castration involves the administration of antiandrogen drugs, such as cyproterone acetate or the birth-control drug DMPA, which is given as an injection every three months, making compliance easier to track.

A major medical use of chemical castration is in the treatment of hormone-dependent cancers, such as some prostate cancer, where it has largely replaced the practice of surgical castration.[3][4]

The antipsychotic agent benperidol is sometimes used to diminish sexual urges in people who display inappropriate sexual behavior, and can likewise be given by depot injection. But benperidol does not affect testosterone and is therefore not a castration agent.


When used on men, these drugs can reduce sex drive, compulsive sexual fantasies, and capacity for sexual arousal. Life-threatening side effects are rare, but some users show increases in body fat and reduced bone density, which increase long-term risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. They may also experience gynecomastia (development of larger than normal mammary glands in males). When used on women, the effects are similar, though there isn't much (if any) research about chemically lowering women's sex drives, since most research focuses on the opposite, but anti-androgenic hormone regimens would lower testosterone in women which can impact sex drive or sexual response.[5][6][7] These drugs also deflate the breast glands and expand the size of the nipple. Also seen is a sudden shrink in bone mass and discoloration of the lips,[8][9] reduced body hair,[10] and muscle mass.[11]


United States

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida opposes the coerced administration of any drug; however, they do not oppose the use of antiandrogen drugs for sex offenders under carefully controlled circumstances as an alternative to incarceration.[12] Law professor John Stinneford has argued that chemical castration is a cruel and unusual punishment because it exerts control over the mind of sex offenders to render them incapable of sexual desire and subjects them to the physical changes caused by the female hormones used.[13]

Some have argued that, based on the 14th Amendment, the procedure fails to guarantee equal protection: although the laws mandating the treatment do so without respect to gender, the actual effect of the procedure disproportionately falls upon men.[14] In the case of voluntary statutes, the ability to give informed consent is also an issue; in 1984, the U.S. state of Michigan's court of appeals held that mandating chemical castration as a condition of probation was unlawful on the grounds that the drug medroxyprogesterone acetate had not yet gained acceptance as being safe and reliable and also due to the difficulty of obtaining informed consent under these circumstances.[14]


In 1981, in an experiment by P. Gagne, 48 males with long standing histories of sexually deviant behaviour were given medroxyprogesterone acetate for as long as 12 months. Forty of those subjects were recorded as to have diminished desires for deviant sexual behaviour, less frequent sexual fantasies, and greater control over sexual urges. The research recorded a continuation of this more positive behaviour after the administration of the drug had ended with no evidence of adverse side effects and recommended medroxyprogesterone acetate along with counselling as a successful method of treatment for serial sex offenders.[15]

History and use by region

The first use of chemical castration occurred in 1944, when diethylstilbestrol was used with the purpose of lowering men's testosterone.[14] Chemical castration is often seen as an easier alternative to life imprisonment or the death penalty because it allows the release of sex offenders while reducing or eliminating the chance that they reoffend.[16]

United States

In 1966, John Money became the first American to employ chemical castration by prescribing medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA, the base ingredient now used in DMPA) as a treatment for a patient dealing with pedophilic urges. The drug has thereafter become a mainstay of chemical castration in America. Despite its long history and established use, the drug has never been approved by the FDA for use as a treatment for sexual offenders.[14]

California was the first U.S. state to specify the use of chemical castration as a punishment for child molestation, following the passage of a modification to Section 645 of the California penal code in 1996.[17][18] This law stipulates that anyone convicted of child molestation with a minor under 13 years of age may be treated with DMPA if they are on parole after their second offense and that offenders may not reject the treatment.[17][18][19][20]

The passage of this law led to similar laws in other states such as Florida's Statute Section 794.0235 which was passed into law in 1997.[21] As in California, treatment is mandatory after a second offense.

At least seven other states, including Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin, have experimented with chemical castration.[14] In Iowa, as in California and Florida, offenders may be sentenced to chemical castration in all cases involving serious sex offenses. On June 25, 2008, following the Supreme Court ruling in Kennedy v. Louisiana that the execution of child rapists where the victim was not killed was ruled unconstitutional,[22] Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed Senate Bill 144, allowing Louisiana judges to sentence convicted rapists to chemical castration.[12][23][24]


The drug cyproterone acetate has been commonly used for chemical castration throughout Europe. It resembles the drug MPA used in America.[14]

In the United Kingdom, computer scientist Alan Turing, famous for his contributions to mathematics and computer science, was a homosexual who was forced to undergo chemical castration in order to avoid imprisonment in 1952.[25] At the time, homosexual acts between males were still illegal and homosexuality was widely considered to be a mental illness that could be treated with chemical castration.[25] Turing experienced side effects such as breast enlargement[26] and bloating of the physique.[25] He died two years later, with the inquest returning a verdict of suicide,[27] although recent research has cast doubt on this result.[28] In 2009, the then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a public apology for the "appalling" treatment of Turing after an online petition seeking the same gained 30,000 signatures and international recognition.[29] He was given a posthumous Royal Pardon in December 2013.

In the 1960s, German physicians used antiandrogens as a treatment for sexual paraphilia.[14]

In 2008, an experimental intervention program was launched in three Portuguese prisons: Carregueira (Belas, Sintra), Paços de Ferreira and Funchal. The program developers note the voluntary nature of the program a crucial factor in its success. They initially planned to cover ten inmates per prison, contemplating a possible enlargement to other prisons in the future. The program also included a rehabilitation component.[30]

On September 25, 2009, Poland legislated forcible chemical castration of child molesters.[31] This law came into effect on June 9, 2010; therefore in Poland "anyone guilty of raping a child under the age of 15 can now be forced to submit to chemical and psychological therapy to reduce sex drive at the end of a prison term".[32]

On April 30, 2010, a man in the United Kingdom found guilty of attempting to murder a 60-year-old woman in order to abduct and rape her two granddaughters agreed to undergo chemical castration as part of the terms of his sentence.[33]

On March 6, 2012, Moldova legislated forcible chemical castration of child molesters; the law came into effect on July 1, 2012.[34]

On June 5, 2012, Estonia passed a law to allow forced chemical castration of sex offenders.[35]

In October and November 2013, the Macedonian authorities were working on developing a legal framework and standard procedure for implementation of chemical castration that would be used for convicted child molesters. The castration is intended to be voluntarily, where as for the child molesters that repeat the criminal act it should be mandatory.[36]


After the outrage followed by a gang rape of a woman in Delhi, the Government has submitted a draft proposing chemical castration along with an imprisonment of up to 30 years for rape convicts as part of the anti-rape law in India. The ministry is preparing a detailed bill and the recommended changes are under review.[37][38] Government is also planning to re-define the Juvenile Act and lower their age. One of the accused in the rape case is a juvenile and aged a few months less than 18 years. A view has been expressed by a section that only those below 15 years should be described as juvenile.[39]


In May 2009, two brothers from Haifa—convicted child molesters—agreed to undergo chemical castration to avoid committing further crimes.[40]


In 2010, a repeat child sex offender who had been subject to chemical castration was accused of inappropriately touching and kissing a young girl. He was found not guilty by a jury, which was not informed of the context of his previous offenses.[41]


In March 2010, Mendoza, a province in Argentina, approved a new law which allows rapists to voluntarily undergo chemical castration therapy in return for reduced sentences.[42]

New Zealand

In New Zealand, the antilibidinal drug cyproterone acetate is sold under the name Androcur. In November 2000 convicted paedophile Robert Jason Dittmer attacked a victim while on the drug. In 2009 a study into the effectiveness of the drug by Dr David Wales for the Corrections Department found that no research had been conducted in New Zealand into the effectiveness and such trials were "ethically and practically very difficult to carry out."[43]

South Korea

In July 2011, South Korea enacted a law allowing judges the power to sentence sex offenders who have attacked children under the age of 16 to chemical castration.[44] The law also allows for chemical castration to be ordered by a Ministry of Justice committee. On May 23, 2012, a repeat sexual offender known only as Park was ordered by the committee to undergo this treatment after his most recent attempted offense. On January 3, 2013, a South Korean court sentenced a 31-year-old man to 15 years in jail and chemical castration, the country's first ever chemical castration sentence.[45][46]


In October 2011, the Russian parliament approved a law that allows a court-requested forensic psychiatrist to prescribe the chemical castration of convicted sex offenders who have harmed children under the age of 14.[47]


In 2016, the Indonesian President Joko Widodo introduced a presidential regulation allowing for chemical castration to be handed down as a punishment to child sex offenders and pedophiles. The regulation alters the contents of the 2002 Law on Child Protection.[48]

See also


  1. "Can Castration Be a Solution for Sex Offenders? Man Who Mutilated Himself in Jail Thinks So, but Debate on Its Effectiveness Continues in Va., Elsewhere" by Candace Rondeaux for the Washington Post, July 5, 2006
  2. "Chemical castration - breaking the cycle of paraphiliac recidivism" Social Justice, Spring, 1999 by Christopher Meisenkothen.
  3. "About hormone therapy for prostate cancer".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "The ADT Book". Life on ADT.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Gynecomastia with Anti-androgens".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Anti-Androgen Side Effects". LIVESTRONG.COM.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Antiandrogen Drugs".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Can drugs help sex offenders? by Clare Murphy for the BBC, 13 June 2007
  12. 12.0 12.1 Larry Helm Spalding (1998). "Florida's 1997 Chemical Castration Law: A Return to the Dark Ages" (PDF). 25:117. Florida State University Law Review: 124. Retrieved March 15, 2016. Furthermore, the ACLU of Florida opposes any attempt to offer a defendant the opportunity to avoid incarceration by taking a drug that is dangerous or that has a significant irreversible effect on an individual’s cognitive capacity or an important physical function, such as the ability to conceive children. The ACLU of Florida does not oppose the use of antiandrogen drugs under certain controlled circumstances as an alternative to incarceration for convicted sex offenders. Because the ACLU of Florida respects individual autonomy and supports the principle that punishment should be no more restrictive of liberty than necessary, an individual’s choice of whether to accept an antiandrogen drug is entitled to considerable respect. In addition, because this choice arises in the inherently coercive context of sentencing, and because of the capacity for abuse of this sentencing option, such treatment should be available only under the most carefully controlled circumstances.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Incapacitation through Maiming: Chemical Castration, the Eighth Amendment, and the Denial of Human Dignity by John Stinneford :: SSRN
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 "Castration of Sex Offenders: Prisoners’ Rights Versus Public Safety" Charles L. Scott, MD, and Trent Holmberg, MD
  15. American Psychiatric Association
  16. "Bill would impose castration for convicted rapists". Ocala Star-Banner. 21 February 1997. p. 4B.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 "XII. SEX OFFENDERS: Children and minors". California State Senate. Retrieved 2006-11-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> The web page notes the Chemical Castration clause as a repeal and an addition to Section 645.
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  19. California code
  20. "Chemical castration for paedophiles approved" in California 21 September 1996
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  22. Rossmeier, Vincent (June 26, 2008). "Jindal approves castration for sex offenders". Salon. Salon Media Group. Archived from the original on June 26, 2008. Retrieved October 20, 2013. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that it's unconstitutional to execute someone for a case of child rape "where the victim's life was not taken." [...]<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Iowa Code 2007 Quick Retrieval
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  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 The Turing enigma: Campaigners demand pardon for mathematics genius by Jonathan Brown for the Independent, August 18, 2009
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  27. Thousands call for Turing apology, BBC, 31 August 2009
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  48. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).

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