Poland stands poised to become the first nation in the EU and almost the first in the world to pass a law that would enable compulsory castration of certain offenders. The bill covers sexual crimes against those under 15 years of age, incestuous rape and internet grooming of a minor. MPs voted almost unanimously on Friday for the amendments to the penal code to be passed into law. It still has to pass through the senate but with the Prime Minister’s strong backing and the approval of 84% of the population there is little chance it will be stopped.
The bill states that judges will decide whether or not to chemically castrate offenders 6 months prior to their release from jail. Chemical castration is a series of medical treatments that reduce libido with the hope of deterring sex offenders from committing repeat offences. The procedure, theoretically, leaves no long-term physical damage and the effects are reversible once treatment ceases. We are able to provide no proof of this one way or another and one has to ask the question whether anyone passing this law really cares what the long term effects are?
This change in Poland’s criminal law has come about primarily because of the Prime Minister and nation’s outrage at the case of Poland’s own Josef Fritzl. A few weeks ago, a 45yr old man, Krzysztof B. was arrested in the village of Grodzisk, near Siemiatycze, for imprisoning and raping (since 2002) his now 21-year-old daughter, Alicja B. The daughter was forced to give up her two sons, aged three and 22 months, for adoption. It is believed that Krzysztof B. is also the father of the children.
What is perhaps most interesting is the widely publicised remark of the Prime Minister, Donald Tusk:
Although the plan has drawn overwhelming public support — 84 per cent of Poles approve — liberal politicians and doctors say that forced castration violates human rights and debases the medical profession.
But Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister, has responded: “I don’t think you can call such individuals — such creatures — human beings. I don’t think you can talk about human rights in such a case.”
I’d be interested to know if it really reads the same way in the original, po polsku. This kind of talk, no matter how I feel about the particular issue at hand, makes me very nervous. What else is Mr Tusk likely to feel needs “special” treatment? How far are we all supposed to follow Mr Tusks’s definition of who is and who is not “human”? Do nasty dictators not use similar propaganda to turn opinion against any group of people they decide they don’t like? I can’t get the words “slippery slope” and “thin end of the wedge” out of my mind.
Does this debase the medical profession? More importantly, is this a breach of human rights and against the Polish constitution, which forbids cruel punishment? Or is it a perfectly justifiable punishment for perfectly ghastly crimes? Are you one of the 84% or not?