According to official data, last year almost five thousand crimes were committed against children in Ukraine. 427 cases of minor’s corruption and rape were brought to court. However, this statistic does not reveal what is happening in the country. According to the assessment data of the Council of Europe, every fifth child faces sexual violence in different forms. And these are almost a million 300 thousand minors who need to be protected from this trouble. At the same time, the bill № 6607 that proposes to make punishment more severe, introduce a pedophiles’ register and their chemical castration, for several years in a row, despite its evident apolitical character, can’t get to the Verkhovna Rada for consideration.
Another day, another report about the sexual abuse of a child. Moreover, every new one is more horrifying than the previous ones. Thus, this February, in one of the Ukrainian villages, 14-year-old teen raped a boy from primary school and filmed it on his phone. When they began to sort everything out, it was found that the same way, but five years ago, this boy was raped by his own father, who is now in prison.
Commenting on this case, the first deputy head of the National Police of Ukraine Vyacheslav Abroskin described sexual crimes against a child as a double tragedy. Therefore, he believes that Ukraine needs a law that “strictly punishes sexual offenses against minors, as well as a register of rapers, otherwise we will continue destroying ourselves.” According to the expert on the protection of child rights Lyudmyla Volynets, this particular story is much more tragic than others. Because the child-abuser, who at one time was a victim, hadn’t received proper treatment. Therefore, she believes that punishment of the offender, without help for the victim, will not stop this nightmare.
Lovers, stepfathers, roommates and even… parents are raping
This March, in Rivne region, a pedophile, who was previously released under the “Savchenko Act”, attacked an 11-year-old girl and tried to rape her. Fortunately, the mother heard her daughter’s cry, so the attacker left her and ran away. The attacker appeared to be a 32-year-old local resident, who was previously convicted of minors’ corruption and rape. Then, during a search in his apartment, law enforcers found a computer, full of porn videos with the participation of children.
Also, in March, the middle of the month, Zhytomyr. In one of the city’s dormitories, a 59-year-old man rapes a 7-year-old neighbor girl. The crime was reported to the police by a neighbor who accidentally stumbled upon such filth. So now a perpetrator is threatened with 5 to 10 years of imprisonment. After experiencing such humiliation and stress, the girl was rescued not only by doctors but by psychologists as well. Nevertheless, they say that the scar will remain in her soul for a long time.
March 24: Metropolitan police are looking for a pedophile, who, with the help of a taser, attacked a 10-year-old girl in the Troyeschyna district. In early April, also in Kyiv, law enforcement detained a stepfather who raped his 12-year-old stepchild. It worth to notice that the child has repeatedly complained to the mother that her stepfather sexually harassed her. But instead of dealing with her sexual partner, a woman brought a child to a doctor to find out if she was lying. Following the recommendation of a lawyer, she installed cameras in the apartment, and “became convinced” – the 41-year-old man raped a little girl when her mother wasn’t near. Law enforcers detained him, psychologists are working with a girl.
Again April, a 34-year-old man first robs, taking away a phone and a golden chain, and then rapes a 14-year-old girl in an electric train “Kyiv – Hrebinka”. A few days later, policemen in the Poltava region catch a notorious foreign pedophile, who is in an international wanted list for crimes related to sexual violence. In a few days more, in Zhytomyr region, a 32-year-old pedophile, who was previously convicted of theft, brought to a barn and raped a 3-year-old girl, where they were found by baby’s mother.
May 18, a message from Vinnytsya: A 54-year-old mother told the police about the rape of her young child born in 2007, by a 55-year-old man. A few days later, Poltava police detained a 30-year-old man suspected of raping a 16-year-old girl in a woodlot, not far away from one of the villages of the Hrebinka district. Then the same story happened in the Mykolaiv region, where near one of the villages, a man attacked a 14-year-old girl in a woodlot.
“What can you say about an adult who rapes minors? Or even infants that can’t understand the nature and significance of the infamous actions committed against them? What kind of punishment does this person need?” Vyacheslav Abroshkin asks. “To my mind, first, we need to know all those bastards that had been previously convicted of sexual crimes against minors and now are living next to our children. All developed democracies in the world have an open registry of these beasts. This practice allows preventing sexual crimes against children efficiently.”
However, the bill № 6607 on amendments to some laws of Ukraine (regarding the implementation of the Unified register of persons convicted for crimes against sexual freedoms and minors’ sexual inviolability and strengthening responsibility for them), which was taken to the parliament in the summer of 2017, still can’t get further than the parliament’s committee on legislative support of law enforcement. One of the main authors of this bill, lawyer-criminologist Anna Malyar said in her comment for Opinion that for quite a long time the main stumbling block was the very norm of creating an open register of pedophiles. However, even when the authors replaced this requirement with the creation of a semi-closed register when only a certain circle of people or organizations could have access to it, there was still no progress.
Recently, a round table discussion on “Sexual abuse of children and the search for legal mechanisms to combat this phenomenon” was held at the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and International Relations. Its participants stressed that the situation with sexual crimes against children is complicated. “Instead, legislation and state authorities are not prepared to counter the sexual abuse of children. At the state level, in Ukraine there is no data or studies that would show the real scope of this problem,” Anna Malyar explains to Opinion. “We’re dealing exclusively with the information provided by law enforcement, which is just the tip of the iceberg, for sexual violence against children has a high degree of latency, that is, secrecy. Because most often it is committed inside the family and mothers prefer to hide such facts from the law enforcement officers, covering up for their husbands and lovers. Nonetheless, such a study was conducted by the Council of Europe a year and a half ago, so it turned out that nearly 20% of children reported that they were sexually abused.”
Therefore, the participants of the round table discussion focused on the need for changes to the criminal legislation, namely on the need to adopt a bill № 6607 aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse. A discussion was held on the key provisions of the draft law: introduction of a register of persons who committed sexual crimes against children, strengthening responsibility for such crimes and introducing chemical castration.
Chemical castration as a fuse for a pedophile
As the authors of the bill explain, crimes against sexual freedom and sexual inviolability of minors are especially dangerous, since “they cause serious damage to the lives and health of the victims. Adaptation of such children to normal life becomes is quite challenging, long and not always a successful job for a wide range of specialists: doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc.” People’s deputies have noted that in recent years the number of such crimes is increasing, so pedophilia, or, as physicians specify, a disorder of sexual preference, is spreading. The most obvious option, in this case, is to create fuses, which can help to deter the growth of such crimes’ rate.
“Because the situation of sexual violence against children got worse, we’ve started to work on this bill two years ago,” notes Anna Malyar. “At the initiative of the then head of police of the Donetsk region Vyacheslav Abroskin, a group of experts who started to work on the bill was gathered. Besides me, there were many other specialists, people’s deputies, psychiatrists, lawyers, and others. Everyone had added something to the idea of such a register, which belongs to Vyacheslav Abroskin, for the problem itself is something that really hurts the entire society. I, as a criminologist, added the idea of increasing responsibility from 20 years of imprisonment to the life imprisonment in the case of repeated offense. The third idea that had formed the basis of the bill was the need for chemical castration of pedophiles. Don’t be frightened by these words, because it means a method of medical treatment for such patients that suppresses their sexual desire. Now, it is applied worldwide as the only possible way to keep these people in a certain line.”
According to international practice, the application of this procedure is legally regulated in most countries of the world. Let’s say in America, at different times, they applied it in 48 out of 50 states. Such medical prevention is used in Great Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Norway, Estonia, as well as in Canada and Israel. The data provided by the British and the Germans indicates its effectiveness: the Government’s program that provides detainees (pedophiles) with drugs that suppress libido and sexual activity in Britain has reduced the relapse of sexual offenses from 40% to 5%, in Germany from 80% to 3%.
At the same time, the adoption of this law in Ukraine has encountered a number of obstacles that don’t let to yield a result. According to Anna Malyar, her proposal of 20 years in prison for pedophiles wasn’t accepted. The reason was that the maximum sentence prescribed in the Criminal Code of Ukraine is 15 years if it’s not the life sentence. The idea of creating an open registry of pedophiles was also criticized: they say if the neighbors know that the pedophile lives nearby, then lynching is quite possible, even if this person wasn’t even close to the next crime. Well, when they’d heard about chemical castration, they immediately turned to the rights of pedophiles and ill-treatment against them, for some reason forgetting ill-treatment against their minor victims, who, in addition to physical injuries, also receive serious mental problems. And quite often it lasts for a lifetime.
“Many times our bill was rereferred for refinement, we took into account all the comments. For example, now it’s not open but semi-closed register, which will be run by the Ministry of Justice, and only law enforcement officers will have access to it. So it’s them, who on demand, of heads of various children’s institutions, will provide such information. Therefore, it is very difficult to understand why this document has encountered such a hidden resistance,” says the lawyer, “because there is no politics in it as well as no money. Nevertheless, it is stuck purely by technical methods. Let’s say, during a meeting of the subject committee, when our bill should have been considered, one of the people’s deputies just walked away. So in order to consider it, there were not enough votes for the quorum. On the other hand, a person who has once resorted to sexual violence against a child can’t be changed in prison – a man will get out of prison and the disease will relapse. That is, those who corrupt and rape children differ significantly from all the others – they, unlike a robber, are not a subject to changes. This means that punishment must be different. Whether it is lifetime isolation or an electronic way to control this person’s movement. However, this is something that Ukraine, unlike Israel, can’t provide yet. The other option is chemical castration, which is proposed by our bill.”
The main reason that the draft law can’t get to the parliament is, “our fellow people’s deputies and, unfortunately, most people, who read this document paying attention to loud words without understanding what they mean,” says People’s Deputy Mustafa Nayyem. According to him, many people are outraged by the term “chemical castration”, because they do not understand what it means. “This chemical castration is not a punishment, but a voluntary measure of a medical nature,” said the MP. “That is, in case of this bill’s adoption, a person, after spending nine years in prison, will have a choice, to stay in prison for a full term or to get out, voluntarily agreeing to chemical castration. If this person agrees, then such convict will first have to turn to the experts. Experts will determine that he really has a sexual disorder, that is pedophilia. After that, he registers as a sick person and with an expert opinion goes to court, filing a petition for the appointment of voluntary treatment. And only when the court makes a decision, such treatment can be initiated.”
Doctors who research this problem point out: if a person has a psychiatric disorder like pedophilia, this, like any other illness needs treatment based on the basics of evidence-based medicine. “Isolation does not help to cure mental disorders. Even compulsory measures of medical nature have the purpose of treatment, not isolation,” explains the director of the Mental Health and Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Alcohol at the Health Ministry Serhii Shum. “They were trying to treat pedophilia with the help of psychotherapy, as well as with other drugs that have an effect on human mental activity. Isolated from the method of chemical castration, they don’t yield the desired effect.”
However, Serhii Shum emphasizes that the patient’s will is very important here, since the drug used for chemical castration, as well as any other serious medicine, has no less serious side effects: from liver and kidney impairment, up to depression accompanied by suicidal attempts that could bring to the death of a pedophile. “No one is forcing anyone to do it, as it is done in some countries,” adds Serhii Shum, “but you must understand that today it is the only effective way of treatment, nevertheless, any treatment has side effects to some extent.” According to the doctor, in particular, the decrease in the number of such crimes will lead to an improvement in the overall mental health of the population. For, we’re talking too often about ill-treatment against criminals, at the same time forgetting about the mental health of rape crimes’ victims.
Why do we need such a registry
So, as we see, the bill offers three serious innovations and each of them causes no less serious but to some extent hidden resistance. It is important for everybody to understand why do we need such a registry. According to people’s deputy Oleh Nedava, who is among the authors of the bill, it is obvious. “Recently there was an incident. We sent children from the east on a trip to the western regions of the country. So, among the people, who were accompanying kids, my colleague saw a person that had previously been convicted of molesting minors. This man was with a camera. It even turned out that he was working in an institution that was sending children to these trips. We inform the boss, and he answers something like, I knew nothing, he just arrived from Horlivka and started to work for us. Therefore, we need this registry to list there a person, who has already been convicted of such crimes.”
Oleh Nedava noted that the real stumbling block was whether this registry should be closed or open. The best option is if it’s closed to the general public so that there is no lynching and no pressure on people who have been convicted of defilement or rape of minors. At the same time, law enforcers and those who work with children should have access to it.
Recently, a petition in support of this bill has appeared on the Verkhovna Rada website. It says, “Unfortunately, the increase in cases of sexual violence against children is a global trend. Children are more and more often drawn into the pornography and sex industry. The spread of the Internet makes them easy prey for pedophiles. Experience has shown that the risk of becoming a pedophile’s victim is not related to the social status and the level of the family’s income. The threat of sexual violence is the same for every child.” So, in order to counter the “epidemic” of sexual violence against children in Ukraine, changes to the legislation aimed at the real protection of children from sexual abuse are needed. The petition reads that authors of the bill for a long time have been looking for a “golden mean” that will suit everyone, while each new version is a compromise between the rights of children and the rights of criminals.
“In two years, no one who expressed any comments or criticisms of the bill didn’t mention the rights of children-victims,” said Anna Malyar, author of this petition. “Any discussion arises exclusively around the rights of rapists, perverts, and pedophiles.” To attract the attention of those to whom this petition is addressed, it should collect 15 thousand signatures.
As we see, there is a problem, and it is a very grave one. In order to resolve it, walking in circles should be stopped and we’ve been watching it for at least two years, during which the Verkhovna Rada couldn’t manage to succeed in adopting this important for Ukrainians bill. Answer the question honestly, at least to yourself, what is more important for the society: the mental health of children or fake care for pedophiles. Then many questions that have no answers today will disappear.
By Larysa Vyshynska