Colombia's senate has approved the use of chemical castration for rapists found guilty of sex crimes against minors, as a new report warns that such violations have soared by 27 percent.
The option received unanimous approval on Tuesday after a widespread public outcry followed the rape and murder of a minor in 2016.
Convicts interested in the voluntary procedure will be able to undergo treatment as well as psychological and psychiatric sessions, El Colombiano reports.
"Every day, seven children between 0 and four years old are sexually violated; between 10 and 14 one-year-old children, and between 15 and 17-year-olds, 12 children are violated," said Carlos Valdes, spokesman for Legal Medicine.
Psychiatrist and director of the Association Affect against Child Mistreatment, Isabel Cuadros, said: "There are no protective environments for children."
Senator Maritza Martinez, of the U Party, authored the bill supporting use of the procedure, which she says impedes the hormones driving such behavior.
"The epidemic of sexual violence that looms over our children and adolescents requires forceful and immediate responses," Martinez said.
"We appreciate the support of the senators and we hope to find an equal response in the representatives to the Chamber, who have always been ready to welcome our initiatives, as it happened with our proposal so that in the framework of the JEP, sexual crimes did not have alternative sanctions, but maximum prison sentences."
Since January, 5,870 cases of child sex abuse have been reported, according to Colombian Family Welfare (ICBF). Last year, over 11,000 reports were filed: an increase of more than 1,000 incidents since 2016.
Chemical castration involves the use of 'anaphrodisiac' drugs to lower sexual desire and libido, with minimum treatment lasting three to five years.
It has been trialled in Sweden, Denmark and Canada, with evidence from Scandinavia suggesting it can cut re-offending rates from 40 percent to five percent.
The bill will now be passed to the House of Representatives and, pending its approval, could become a staple in penal systems across the country.Author of the bill, Martinez said,
The bill also stipulates a prison sentence of anywhere between six months to three years for sex offenders, as well as the creation of a national criminal registry.