Norway's Justice and Emergency Minister Per-Willy Amundsen of the Progress Party has shocked the Nordic public by proposing to weigh the option of chemical castration against people convicted of sexual assault against children.
"I am concerned with the goal of arresting, judging, sentencing and rendering harmless these pedophile monsters that have nothing to do in society. In this connection, all measures must be considered," Per-Willy Amundsen said, as quoted by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten.
Meanwhile, medical castration of pedophiles has long been present on the Progress Party's agenda, even before it entered its first-ever government through an alliance with the Conservatives in 2013.
In 2009, the party suggested exposing people convicted of serious sexual assault to hormone treatment that causes them to lose their sex drive. In 2014, the Progress Party's justice spokesman suggested it was time for a new debate, after Erik Andersen, arguably Norway's best-known convicted child molester and is sometimes referred to as The Pocket Man, applied for release when his minimum custody sentence expired. In November 2016, Jan Arild Ellingsen of the Progress Party suggested that chemical castration has to be discussed as a method of fighting child abuse.
"If you can save a child with this measure, then it's good enough for me. Our children's right to not be exposed to these terrible acts goes above a pedophile's right to exercise their sexuality," Per-Willy Amundsen said.
However, psychologist Svein Øverland from St. Olavs Hospital warned against the popular belief that hormone treatment alone would cause an abuser to quit. Øverland told Norwegian national broadcaster NRK about disagreements in the academic community about the efficacy of hormone treatment due to ongoing research.
Also, Thore Langfeldt, a specialist in clinical psychology and sexology, who worked as a therapist for Erik Andersen, was highly critical of the method, pointing out that widely available anabolic steroids can effectively eliminate the effect of hormone treatment, the Norwegian daily Nettavisen reported.
Unlike surgical castration, where the gonads are removed through an incision in the body, chemical castration neither removes organs, nor is a form of sterilization; its effects are generally considered reversible.
In recent years, a number of countries, including Poland, Moldova and Estonia, have been experimenting with chemical castration on rapists and pedophiles, often in return for reduced sentences.