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French bid to control rapists with drugs

FRANCE yesterday launched a controversial pilot plan to offer rapists and paedophiles chemical treatment to inhibit their sex drive.

The move, announced by Justice Minister Dominique Perben, aims to reduce the population of French prisons where 8,200 men - or 22pc of male inmates - are convicted sex offenders. Of those, three out of four have been jailed for crimes of paedophilia.

Mr Perben said a two-year trial would be launched in January under which 48 repeat offenders will be offered counselling and treatment using two drugs that inhibit the development of male sex hormones.

The minister said: "With the drugs, these people will be calmed down and will be able to control urges which they often describe as impossible to resist."   But he stressed that France was not envisaging offering full-scale chemical castration. "The drugs that are going to be used have no irreversible effects," he claimed.

However, some specialists warned that not enough is known about the possible side-effects of the so called anti-androgen drugs - leuproreline, which is injected once a month, and cyproterone, which is taken in tablet form - nor whether the treatments are genuinely reversible.   Cyproterone is already used to treat prostate cancer and severe forms of male hair growth. Leuproreline is a breast cancer drug.

French probation officers and social workers warned yesterday that follow-up and counselling services are not currently adequate for the widescale introduction of the drugs.

The men in the trial - who are described as all being volunteers - will be released early from jail on condition that they agree to the treatment by Professor Serge Stoleru at Inserm, the French national health research institute.   Mr Perben said he expects positive results and would like to take action and offer the drugs to all sex offenders.   But he ruled out making the treatment obligatory, or even considering voluntary chemical castration which is currently available in two European countries, Sweden and Germany.

Source: Irish Independent


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