A doctor makes an incision in a man's scrotal sack and, deftly wielding his scalpel, quickly removes both testicles. In the Czech Republic that simple operation is the punishment for male sex offenders. But to the Council of Europe, the region's leading human rights body, the procedure is "invasive, irreversible and mutilating." In a report issued last week the Council called the punishment "degrading" and demanded it be scrapped immediately.
Over the past decade, at least 94 prisoners have undergone the treatment in the Czech Republic, the only country in Europe to continue to surgically castrate sex offenders. The Czech government insists the procedure is a medical issue, permanently reducing testosterone levels to lower an offender's sexual urges. And officials say it is only performed at the request of the prisoners themselves.