Development Roast

Death penalty versus castration: A thought experiment

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Stories about sexual violence against girls and women are common in the Bolivian news, but recently the stories have escalated to such hideous levels that the Vice-President of Bolivia has announced a referendum on whether to re-institute life-in-prison and death penalty in Bolivia (1).

For example, last Sunday, one of the guards of the “Defence of Children and Adolescents” facility in La Paz was caught in fraganti sexually violation two under-age girls who had come to the facility because they had suffered abuse (1).

The day before, a step-father and step-grandfather were jailed in Cochabamba for sexually violating and killing a baby girl, who had not even turned two (2).

A couple of weeks before, the President of the Municipal Council of Tapacarí (Cochabamba) was physically and sexually assaulting one of the female members of the Council, and a friend of the woman was trying to stop the assault when the Mayor arrived. But instead of helping the two women, the Mayor exclaimed “Why haven't you raped these horny whores yet? Rape them and throw them in the river.” (3)

A week before that, a 12-year-old girl died from syphilis after having suffered sexual abuses by her uncle, father, and brother since she was seven years old (4).

And one week before that, in Cochabamba, a father sent his older sons for ice cream, to get a chance to rape his three-year-old daughter. He subsequently dumped the bleeding and crying toddler five blocks from home (4).

The examples are endless and absolutely nauseating, but they are just the tip of the ice-berg. Most sexual violations never get reported to the police, and much less end up in the news. Something drastic has to be done to stop this incredibly widespread problem.

As it happens, a very effective, cheap, and quite humane solution is already known, and it is already standard practice. At least among pig farmers.

Pig farmers castrate almost all male piglets just after birth, both for the well-being of the pigs, for the convenience of the pig farmers, and for the benefit of pork eaters. A castrated pig does not constantly get into fights with other pigs; it doesn't go crazy and stop eating when it gets horny; and its meat won't be affected by the hormone-induced unpleasant “boar taint.” A castrated pig just contentedly goes about its life, eats its food, and turns into tasty pork meat for human consumption.

Of course, pig farmers also keep some carefully selected male pigs for reproduction, because otherwise we would soon run out of bacon. But the sperm from one boar serves to artificially inseminate millions of sows, so that is not really a bottle-neck.

So, if we transferred this tried-and-true method to humans, what might happen?

First, boys would breeze through the education system, focusing on their course subjects and their achievements, rather than their hormonal impulses, so the gender gap in education would probably be eliminated (5). Girls would be able to finish the education of their choice, without having to worry about getting raped and dropping out of school due to unwanted pregnancy. So overall, we would expect much improved education outcomes.

Second, the women who are interested in having a child would get pregnant by artificial insemination whenever they are ready, choosing the genetic material they consider to optimally complement their own. If I had had that option, for example, I would probably have chosen George Clooney as the father of my children. In general, we would expect substantial improvements in the gene pool over time. Of course there would have to be some register and algorithms in place to secure that we will not all be related to George Clooney by the end of the century, but I am pretty sure the pig farmers have already worked out that system.

Third, there are many health benefits to castration. One study reported in The Economist shows that eunuchs (castrated men) on average live 13.5 years longer than non-eunuch men, mainly because the lack of testosterone makes them less likely to engage in risky and violent behaviour (6). The lack of testosterone also vastly reduces the likelihood of prostate cancer. Indeed, most contemporary eunuchs are advanced prostate cancer patients, who have been chemically or surgically castrated to slow down cancer growth (7). In general, we would expect a substantial increase in life expectancy not only for men, but also for women, as the latter would suffer less from male violence and complications from unwanted pregnancies.

Fourth, if we do this well and globally, we could potentially reduce the risk of World War III to close to zero, as the risk of such a calamity is almost entirely caused by hormonal men. In general, we would expect violence of all kinds to drop precipitously.

Bonus benefit: We would get a lot more amazing castrati opera singers, like Farinelli 1.

I am sure this proposal violates several human rights, but I challenge men to find a better solution. Urgently!

* Senior Researcher at INESAD. The viewpoints expressed in this blog are the responsibility of the author and probably do not reflect the viewpoints of the male members of Fundación INESAD.


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  2. /Guardia-sorprendido-sexualmente-defensoria-emerge ncia-La_Paz_0_2713528655.html
  3. x?id=violan-y-matan-a-una-nina-de-un-ano-en-cochab amba
  4. n_0_2714128565.html
  5. res-violados-dias-mayoria-familiares-137584.html
  6. ender-equality-in-education/
  7. gy/21569362-rich-world-men-are-closing-longevity-g ap-women-catching-up
  8. ml