British Columbia ends youth penile test

Aug. 8, 2010 at 7:17 PM
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- British Columbia has stopped its decades-long practice of testing the arousal rates of young sex offenders after a tester was charged with sexual assault.

The testing had been controversial within the provincial Children and Family Development Ministry but it went on for two decades until the charges were brought against a contractor administering the tests, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Sunday.

The penile plethysmograph required sex offenders as young as 13 to look at images of nude and semi-nude children and listen to audio descriptions of forced sex while their physical responses were measured. The test was developed in the 1950s by European scientists to determine the veracity of officers refusing military service on claims they were homosexual.

Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak ended use of the test last month.

Alan Markwart, director of youth forensic psychiatric services, told the CBC some government officials considered the test invasive while others contended it could prevent future sex crimes and provide a measure of what arouses young sex criminals.

Asia Czapska, a spokeswoman for Justice for Girls, an organization that primarily advocates for the rights of young women, called the testing a human rights abuse.

"This was just egregious," she said. "It's shocking."

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