Thursday, October 13, 2005

WHAT'S A SOCIETY TO DO?

What do we do when we, as a Society, are confronted with a case like this?

http://tinyurl.com/8a6xm

What does "justice being served" mean in a case like this?

My initial response is:


From the story, as it was presented in the news, it is clear that these people knew full well that according to Israeli law that what they had done is considered a sexual crime against a minor. Whether or not they themselves considered it a perversion and a violation of the child's Human rights cannot be determined from the story. It is clear, however, that they knew that this is their society's view. They did, after all, use the behavior to incriminate one another in the course of their marital disputes.

My inclination is not to punish, per se, but to correct, which is what I think all effective punishment should be. Chances are the parents are victims of sexual predators in their childhood.The parents are very sick and, as in the case with all extreme illnesses, extreme methods of cure may be called for.

If we mete out harsh measures unwisely we become a depraved and brutal society. Punishment cannot be carried out in order to release our feelings of outrage. It has to be a corrective measure that helps the persons who veered off societal norms. It would be ironic indeed if, in being unwisely brutal toward sexual predators, we become perverted morally as a society.

And who will carry out the harsh punishment? In ancient Israel the Judges themselves had to mete out the punishments they recommended. They were, therefore, extremely careful not to have innocent blood on their hands and not to be unnecessarily harsh. Today there are professional executioners, jailers, psychiatrists, etc. who do the bidding of the judges who keep their hands "clean" of meting out the actual punishment.

I would call for them serving a term in a closed psychiatric facility and having to take part in one-on-one, family and group therapy. Thereafter, when they show marked improvement, they may be released on the proviso that they agree to having their libidos chemically reduced to the point where they are incapable of repeating these acts. This agreement on their part, in writing, should be made a condition of their release. I say this because there is an unusually high rate of recidivism amongst sexual offenders. A troubling case is a Canadian one: A man, who was a serial rapist from the age of 12 (no typo), has been in jail for decades. He is a model prisoner and is due for early release. Yet, he is still more sexually excited by rape scenes than by scenes involving consensual sex. The families of his victims are livid about, and terrified of, his impending early release and are doing everything they can to petition the Canadian justice system to reconsider the decision. Certainly, it cannot be assumed from the fact that he is a model prisoner that he will be a model member of society-at-large, or even a minimally functioning one. How he responds to sex scenes, is, IMO, far more indicative of future behavior when he is set free. When asked if he thinks that he will return to raping he answered honestly, saying that he doesn't know. He recommends setting him free to determine the matter.

I know that the chemicals that reduce the libido cause side-effects. I can see no way out of the moral quandary. It seems to be that we have to "violate" the human and societal rights of sexual offenders in order to protect society. It is preferable, IMO, that paedophiles be made into semi-zombies than that innocent children be made sexually maladapted and the sexual predators of tomorrow. It is better, IMO, that convicted rapists be made sterile than that they be able to rape again. Moreover, as rape is a crime of violence, not a sexual act per se, it is desirable, methinks, that convicted rapists be so drugged as not to be able to harm another being in any way as acondition of their release from closed institutions.I'd like to throw this one out for discussion.

This is a tough case and it's been put on our plate. This is not a theoretical discussion. This is a real case pending in the District Court of Tel Aviv.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

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