And now we are back to talking about chemical castration.

After the gang rape in Palermo and the long string of horrors it brought, Salvini once again became the flag bearer of the campaign, stoking the wrath of would-be avengers of the night.

Photo by Roberto Serra – Iguana Press/Getty Images

For the first time, the topic of chemical castration emerged from the sadistic circles of potential night avengers and became the subject of debate between political forces in 2002. The idea was put forward by then Senate Vice President Roberto Calderoli, who proposed using this measure against pedophiles: prescribing drugs and hormonal drugs that could theoretically suppress sexual desire to block any problem at the root. At that time there were no discussions about the origin of sexual violence, very few spoke about its sociocultural nature.

The unanimous indignation of all political forces reduced the argument to a joke in a very bad tone, in no way alien to the Northern League’s habit of blaming it to the utmost unacceptable. Calderoli, however, never abandoned this view: over the years, he has repeatedly promoted legislative initiatives on this issue, gradually building a consensus. In 2008, the leader of the National Alliance revisited the topic in an interview with Tg1, in which he argued that castrating pedophiles was a good way to quell their “temptations and urges”. Incredibly, then party secretary Walter Veltroni offered support with one of his usual very long paraphrases based on “but also”, in an attempt – which later proved futile and even disastrous – to assert the right on his issues from an electoral perspective. “There is no certainty that this method works, as explained by Professor Garattini, one of Italy’s leading pharmacological experts,” said Veltroni. But if science has allowed us to find an effective method, I don’t see why not resort to it. But in the current state of affairs, we have no certainty that chemical castration is effective.”

It is at this point that the cornerstone of the rule of law disappears from discussion: the inviolability of the body, that is, the right that is set as a fundamental condition for the exercise of all other rights, since without the body there is no freedom. and no power can afford to cross that line.
Of course, in the case of Calderoli, and in the case of Fini, and in the case of Veltroni, this argument is a mistake that is unlikely to ever be justified, since it contrasts sharply with the Constitution, European norms (Resolution No. 1945 of 2013: “ no practice of forced sterilization or castration can be considered legal in the 21st century”) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Chemical castration has resurfaced in the public debate in recent days following the Palermo gang rape and the long string of horrors it brought with it. Matteo Salvini apparently became the flag bearer of the campaign – the League had been collecting signatures for such measures for years – and also found an unexpected fellow traveler, the poet Emma Dante, who, with a Facebook post – later also taken up by Repubblica – speaks of castration as a “great medicine” . There’s a big brawl in the papers and on social media bulletin boards, and in Parliament, someone is pushing the usual bill that’s probably destined to disappear within a few weeks.

However, it must be said that there are quite a few countries that consider chemical castration a solution to the problem, even if it is done through medical methods and with the prior consent of the subject in question. This is the case in the US, UK, Israel, Portugal and New Zealand, and only Russia and Poland do not require consent to continue. The most famous case of chemical castration in history probably occurred with the mathematician Alan Turing, who preferred it to prison (it was 1952, and he was convicted of homosexuality. In 1954 he decides to commit suicide).

In 2021, after the inclusion of this clause in the anti-rape law in Pakistan, the government finally gave in and backed down. Amnesty International has previously called the practice “cruel and inhuman”: “This cruel and inhuman legislation not only violates Pakistan’s constitutional and international legal obligations. Moreover, it will not help solve the problem of sexual violence. Instead of tougher penalties, the authorities should address deep-seated problems in the criminal justice system that consistently deny justice to victims. Chemical castration will not fix a shortage of police forces or undertrained investigators.”

The fact is that in Italy – the country that, by the way, gave birth to Cesare Beccaria, even if now memories of him cause extreme tenderness – chemical castration is no longer a taboo, even the most critical now oppose, saying that “it’s useless” . “and that he would have a meager, to put it mildly, deterrent function, but now no one finds the courage to say that, no matter how terrible the deed and no matter how serious the crime committed, the punishment should always be and in any form “. cases are punitive and re-educational in nature and under no circumstances should the body of the convict be touched.

The question of principle no longer stands up to scrutiny in a completely insane public debate in which social media sharing of the torturers’ version becomes a way of showing solidarity with the victims, and in which the dissemination of gruesome and unnecessary details is replaced by the exercise of accountability rights. It is therefore, to a certain point, surprising that even chemical castration is no longer rejected, in contrast to any democratic idea of ​​justice, but only because it is useless.

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