The recent rape of an eight-year-old child, which took place in Odesa region, has affected the society and once again pushed for calls to increase punishment for rape and for everyone to have free access to the “list” of pedophiles. Opinion has found out, what is the punishment today, whether it really should be increased? What are the chances of successful operation of the “register of pedophiles” in Ukraine? Whether medical intervention should be mentioned? What changes are proposed by the new bill and how to protect your child from the tragedy?
What is the punishment for the rapist of young and minor children today?
In the comment to Opinion Kateryna Levchenko, a governmental commissioner for Gender Policy, together with Maryna Lehenka, a lawyer and the head of the legal aid department of civic organization “La Strada-Ukraine”, explained that today the maximum punishment for a rape is 15 years of imprisonment, which is inherent in many European countries. However, in Ukrainian legislation, this issue is regulated by several articles of the Criminal Code at once.
“The Criminal Code of Ukraine, as of today, provides liability for violent acts of a sexual nature against a child in accordance with article 152 “Rape”, where the responsibility for the rape of a minor child is from 7 to 12 years of imprisonment, and of a young child from 10 to 15 years. Article 153 of the Criminal Code “Forcible sodomy”, where responsibility for such sexual relations is punished for a minor child from 3 to 7 years of imprisonment, and a young child from 10 to 15 years.
At the same time, according to the amendments to the CCU (Criminal Code of Ukraine), which will come into force on January 12, 2019, these two norms of the CCU will be united into one – “Rape”, where the maximum punishment will be 15 years, but the Legislator also recognize the commission of sexual acts of the vaginal, anal or oral penetration of another person’s body using genitals or any other object committed against a person under the age of fourteen, regardless of his voluntary consent, and establishes liability from 8 to 15 years of imprisonment. As for the responsibility for the rape of a minor child, the same punishment is left – from 7 to 12 years”, the experts are convinced.
However, amendments to the current legislation may be added by the bill #6607 “On amendments to some laws of Ukraine on the implementation of the Unified Register of persons convicted of crimes against sexual freedom and immunity of a young child”. According to the explanation given to Opinion by Olena Drozdova, Ph.D. in Law, lawyer and the head of “Drozdova and partners” law firm, the draft law does have a noble goal, but it becomes clear in a detailed analysis that there are many traps, pitfalls, and aspects that have to be completed. In particular, it is about increasing the punishment.
“Determining the new level of punishment for a rape of young and minor children, which now varies from 10 to 20 years depending on the age of the victim and the consequences, it is not clear, what inspired the changes, because abroad, where our lawmakers follow the example, the term for similar crimes usually does not exceed 15 years. Only in some states, which mostly belong to third world countries, a rapist (no matter of who) can be taken to prison for 20, 30 years, and even for life. Well, you can also be sentenced to death, which also indicates the level of legal development of such states. Prolonged stay of the guilty in prison is unlikely can correct his deformed consciousness, rather, it will only prolong the term of isolation from a society for a longer period of time and increase the expenditures from the state budget for his maintenance”, explains Drozdova.
Is there a need to create a register of pedophiles in Ukraine?
Kateryna Levchenko is convinced that such a register will help to avoid situations where a rapist, after serving his sentence, will have the opportunity to work with children. Another issue is to make this list open or closed since one should not forget about the possible pressure on the person.
“Creation of such a register will prevent the employment of child’s rapist to any kind of work connected with kids. Such a register is also needed to prevent such crimes. To make this register open or closed is also the question since it can indeed exert pressure on the individual. In my opinion, it is necessary to make it with restricted access,” was mentioned in the comment.
At the same time, Olena Drozdova, the lawyer stresses, that some of the court decisions may turn out to be false or fake. They may be abolished, but after putting a name to the register, the “pedophile” stigma will always follow the innocent person, at least among the users of this database. A number of questions also arise in relation to the responsibility for disseminating information from an expectable register and the transparency of the data entry procedure – will it really reflect the real state of affairs.
It is impossible to disagree with the opinion of the head of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group Yevhen Zakharov, who, advocating the position of the absolute non-usefulness of the register, noted: “the conviction of the court, taking into account all the corruption and imperfection of the judicial system of Ukraine, cannot be the reason for the introduction of information about a person to such a base. One way or another, the sentences may be fictitious, they can be abolished, revised, but if any name is already entered in such a register, whether it’s open or closed, still the ‘pedophile’ stigma will follow the person constantly, even within a limited circle of users of this database. It is also necessary to immediately consider, how and who will be responsible for disseminating information from the register and using it for purposes not provided by law and how to coordinate its operation with the provisions of the law of Ukraine ‘On the protection of personal data’”, emphasizes the attorney.
Is medical intervention an alternative to punishment?
According to Kateryna Levchenko and Maryna Lehenka, such issues should be resolved by a special medical examination, but it would be advisable to consider it as an option to use hormone therapy that could reduce the sexual desire of a person.
“The need for medical intervention should be established by psychiatric examination. However, it might be appropriate to consider the issue of medical treatment with the use of hormonal therapy, which would lower the hormonal activity and, as a consequence, sexual desire,” comment the experts.
However, precisely this version of “voluntary punishment” along with an increase in the length of the sentence and the creation of the register is considered in the bill #6607. Olena Drozdova assures: it is only about voluntary consent. But the bill itself has gaps: emphasizing voluntary medical treatment, the authors of the document provide for… arrest for avoiding the procedure.
“Voluntary medical treatment is a kind of castration, which is proposed to be applied to people suffering from pedophilia, instead of serving part of the sentence. We emphasize that treatment will take place only with the consent of the convicted person – that is, the person recognizes himself ill, wants to be cured by certain medical procedures and deliberately allows doctors to do this. And a mistake again – right after the norm on voluntary medical treatment there is a norm that provides for arrest for evasion from these voluntary (!) procedures. At the same time, the maximum arrest is of 2 years,” Drozdova is sure.
How to talk with a child on this topic and how to prevent a tragedy?
Kateryna Shevtsova, a practicing psychologist, explained Opinion that in our society there is an undeniable role of the eldest in the family and society. Often children, who became victims of violence, were afraid to disobey the instructions of an adult. The postulate “the old one is always right / knows better” is in the minds from the youngest years, because, according to the expert, it is convenient for a quick impact on a person. In order to protect the child from the tragedy, you must regularly explain her/him, that not all the adults are honest, intelligent and polite. In addition, the psychologist has developed an action plan and topics that need to be regularly discussed in the family.
“1. It is necessary to regularly monitor the incidents of child abuse in the media. This will give you an idea of what methods rapists use or whether one appeared in any part of your city, and so on. These cases can be told to children.
2. It is necessary to gradually teach the child to understand, that on the street she/he has to watch what is happening around. She/he must not walk on the street stuck in their phone or listening to music in the headphones. The child simply does not have time to react if someone attacks her/him or tries to get them into the car. Explain that in such cases you must loudly scream and beat the offender’s genital organs, knees, and other vital points.
3. Explain to the child, that even people, whom they know (neighbors, parents’ acquaintances, who come to visit etc.) can be dangerous.
4. Relationships in the family should be trustworthy. In 40% of cases, children are ashamed to tell their parents about sexual harassment by the elderly, is due to the fact, that children consider themselves guilty of it, but not those who attack them.
5. Explain to the child, that the offender can be of any gender, age, and appearance.
6. Work with the child the possible risk areas (that is, places where he or she can be attacked unexpectedly). One of these zones is a common area in the block of flats (even if you have an intercom or a code lock).
7. Sometimes children are ashamed to shout or run in time. Explain to the kid that it’s better to look silly and raise false alarms than being raped or killed,” stressed the psychologist Kateryna Shevtsova.
By Dmytro Zhuravel