Is chemical castration the solution to the rape pandemic?

Omogolo Taunyane

North West premier Thandi Modise, who was herself a rape victim in her teens, advocates the use of chemical castration on rapists as a solution to South Africa’s rape pandemic.

Modise made the statement during the inauguration of the newly nominated Provincial Council on Aids (PCA) held in Mafikeng on Monday. PCA coordinates and monitors North West implementation of programmes and strategies for the province&39;s response to HIV and Aids.

“Given the unacceptable levels that the scourge has reached across the country, the chemical castration of rapists could serve as a deterrent in reducing rape,” she said.

But not everyone agrees with the premier.

Jabu Baloyi, spokesperson for the Commission of Gender Equality, said chemical castration would be wrong.

"As much as we come up with solutions, we must not infringe on the human rights of people. The Department of Basic Education should visit rural communities and by implementing Life Orientation lessons, teach learners about gender and equality and ways to understand power dynamics. They should learn that manhood isn’t just in the trouser, but it’s also about respect and understanding," said Baloyi.

An increasing number of rape cases have attracted vast media attention in past weeks, including the brutal rape and mutilation of 17-year-old Anene Booysen from Bredasdorp who died in the Tygerberg Hospital as a result of her injuries.

According to Dr Muhammad Barmania, urologist at Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, there are two ways to administer chemical castration.

" A tablet is administered to the patient for permanent and ongoing treatment which costs between R100 and R150 per month. The second method is through injections over a period of three months and each injection costs between R3 000 and R4 000."

Chemical castration does not involve the removal of male genitals. It is an entirely chemical process affecting hormone changes in the body to inhibit the impulse of sexual functionality of the patient.
Side effects reported by patients varied in severity, but common side effects include fatigue, headache, nausea, hot flashes and insomnia.

Physical changes as a result of the treatment include gynecomastia (enlarged male breast) and weight gain. More serious side effects included phlebitis (swollen veins causing pain), hypertension, gastrointestinal complaints, gallstones and diabetes.

Dr Barmania mentioned that a small percentage of patients may recover their sexual function.

"This begs the question whether chemical castration is a tangible solution to curbing rape. The uncertainty of ensuring permanent results for patients and the issue of compliance in cases of inmates on parole or inmates being transferred to different prisons, casts doubt on whether this is an avenue South Africa should pursue."


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