Published November 14, 2012
Thieves will be getting a lot more than a slap on the wrist in one Bolivian city, and convicted rapists will face something a whole lot worse.
Under a controversial, new law system for Bolivia’s indigenous people in the city of El Alto, thieves will have their hands amputated and those found guilty of rape will be chemically castrated.
After being sentenced in a newly created court, the unlucky crooks will be operated on by trained doctors paid to perform the procedures. However, if the doctors refuse to put the perps under the knife, lesser-trained, indigenous doctors from the surrounding highlands will be brought in to do the job.
Chemical castration is the administration of medication designed to reduce libido and sexual activity.
“Indigenous justice is handled differently, not between four walls as ordinary justice is. We will not be sending people to jail in these cases,” said Carmelo Titirico, leader of the National Council for Ayllu y Marka people, according to the New York Daily News.
The punishment was approved by the area's indigenous community “as it's the only way to stop those crimes,” he added.
Titirico said that the punishments are protected under Bolivia’s “community justice law.” Under current President Evo Morales, Bolivia is considered a plurinational state, which permits existence of multiple political communities and constitutional asymmetry.
While the measures could lead to widespread anger among the area’s indigenous peoples, Titirico said that his council won’t back down on their ruling.
The cutting off of hands has been used around the world for centuries as a way to punish thieves. Under Islamic law, the punishment is sometimes used part of Hdud and usually refers to the class of punishments that are fixed for certain crimes that are considered to be "claims of God."
Just a few months ago, a thief convicted of theft in war-torn Mali had his hand cut off by one of the radical Islamist groups controlling the northern part of the country.
Chemical castration has also been used in countries around the world as a way to prevent sex offenders, especially those convicted in crimes against children, from repeating their acts. Both South Korea and Russia currently have laws that permit for chemical castration of sex offenders.
Some good news for Bolivia’s non-indigenous population with sticky fingers is that the law only pertains to the country’s indigenous peoples and others accused of these crimes will be prosecuted under the country’s regular legal system.
Another positive point, Titirico said, was that despite the fear of losing your manhood and hands, the court “respects human life” and won’t sentence anyone to death, even convicted of murder.