JAKARTA Indonesia's health minister has proposed the introduction of chemical castration to punish pedophiles in the world's most populous Muslim nation, following a string of headline-grabbing child sex crimes.
Indonesia is the latest Asian country to consider chemical castration, with India and Malaysia recently mulling similar measures against rapists and repeat sexual offenders.
South Korea in 2011 became the first Asian country to permit the punishment, joining a small group of nations that allow such treatment including Poland, Russia, Estonia and some U.S. states.
"Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi proposed chemical castration to deter pedophiles. But we can't comment because it is still being discussed among the ministries," Julian Pasha, spokesman to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, told Reuters on Friday.
Chemical castration involves a man being injected with drugs that effectively blunt his sex drive for a period of time, and does not involve any surgery.
President Yudhoyono has held a series of cabinet meetings this month to discuss tougher measures to protect children, after a spate of child sex crimes.
Last month, police arrested a group of janitors working at the Jakarta International School (JIS) for allegedly abusing a six-year-old student.
Also in April, the FBI said a suspected child predator had once taught at JIS, as well as at a number of other international schools in Nicaragua, the United Kingdom, Venezuela and other countries. The suspect, William James Vahey, committed suicide in March.
And this month, the police arrested a man for allegedly abusing more than 100 underage boys over the last few months in Western Java.
The police said there were 102 child sex crime reports so far this year, compared to 980 in all of 2013, but most incidents go unreported.
(Reporting by Jakarta bureau; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)