Category Archives: Sexual Health

Sexual and reproductive health services must be available for survivors of rape in conflicts

The World Association for Sexual Health stresses that sexual and reproductive health services are crucial for recovery of sexual violence survivors in conflict zones and other situations. The United Nations must aim for survivor-focused policies in the protection of women, girls and vulnerable people during conflicts.

The Security Council of the United Nations has adopted a resolution (S/RES/2467-2019) under the title of Women and peace and security: Sexual violence in conflict, which omitted sexual and reproductive health entirely. The resolution significantly weakens the ongoing work to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of victims of sexual violence during conflicts, as well as other victims of gender-based or sexuality-based violence, harassment and oppression.

The omission of any direct references to sexual and reproductive health in the language of the resolution may have significant repercussions, especially when the omissions are linked to the global gag rule by the US against any organizations that provide abortions. Human rights organizations have reported that the gag rule has already resulted to reductions in key sexual and reproductive health services in areas, where access to such services is not assured in the first place (1). 

The World Association of Sexual Health (WAS) stresses that medical and psychological care pertaining to sexual and reproductive health are crucial to recovery and wellbeing of the survivors of sexual violence among other health services including mental health and therapy. Full access to sexual and reproductive health services includes emergency contraception, abortion, STI prophylaxis, psychological support, and other means for the survivors of sexual violence to control their own bodies, reproduction and relationships. 

The Declaration of Sexual Rights (2014) states that everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of sexual health, which includes full access to reproductive health services including abortion (Article 7). All genders have the right to protection from violence, and no survivor of sexual violence must be declined help and services regardless of their ethnicity, social origin, gender identity, marital status or any other characteristic (Articles 1 and 5).

WAS urges the United Nations and all of the member states to aim for survivor-focused and prevention policies and recommendations regarding sexual violence in conflict zones and oppressive conditions. Specific attention must be aimed at vulnerable populations like LGBTQ+ people, indigenous people, disabled people, and refugees and migrant populations worldwide. Policies and recommendations should also take into account gender-based systemic violence and oppression, intersectionality of discrimination, stigmatization and ostracism following victimization, and full accountability of the perpetrators (2). 

***

WAS is an international organization, with more than one hundred member organizations across the globe, that promotes and advocates for sexual health and sexual rights throughout the lifespan and across the world by advancing sexuality research, comprehensive sexuality education, and clinical care and services for everyone.


References
1) Report by the Human Rights Watch: Trump’s ‘Mexico City Policy’ or ‘Global Gag Rule’, Questions and Answers https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/02/14/trumps-mexico-city-policy-or-global-gag-rule
2) Statement by the group of German NGO’s: https://www.gwi-boell.de/sites/default/files/statement_1325_en.pdf

WAS Education Award: Excellence and Innovation in Sexuality Education 2019 – A first call for nominations

In recognition of the special contribution sexuality educators make to the overall fields of education, health and sexology, the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) presents this prestigious award at its next World Congress In Mexico City. WAS invites nominations from individuals and organizations to be considered for the award.

These awards are to recognize the special contribution sexuality educators make to the overall fields of education, health and sexology. They are presented in three categories:

A. Non-Government Organizations or Individuals

B. Academic programmes

C. Governmental and Government-sponsored programmes

WAS Sexuality Education Committee (SEC) has responsibility of WAS Education Awards.

Deadline for applications for WAS Education Awards is 31st of January 2019. The official announcement of the winner(s) will be at the WAS Congress in Mexico City in October 12 – 15, 2019.

Applications can be sent to the Chair of WAS Sexuality Education Committee: osmo.kontula@vaestoliitto.fi.

 

WAS statement about the WHO / ICD 11

The World Health Organization (WHO) has just announced the official publication of a new version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). This new version marks the culmination of a long process which lasted about ten years and which benefited from a large number of contributions by and comments from professional specialists and patient organization advocates.

The new ICD includes for the first time a chapter on Conditions Related to Sexual Health which brings together conditions that were previously categorized in other ways and mostly under the category of mental disorders.

The proposed changes in the ICD-11 embody a more integrated approach to sexual health. This reorganization reflects the WHO’s definition of sexual health as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity” (WHO, 2006). The new chapter on Conditions Related to Sexual Health includes sexual dysfunctions, sexual pain disorders, paraphilic disorders, gender incongruence, adrenogenital disorders, sexual transmitted infections, changes in female and male genital anatomy, sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse, and contraceptive management. Most importantly, the proposed new classification bridges the mind/body divide, which has long been a prominent feature of medical care related to sexual dysfunction. Moreover, eliminating the outdated mind/body split and removing many disorders from the mental and behavioral disorders sections, allows practitioners to address these issues more holistically, in a less stigmatizing and less myopic way. By using a sexual health approach, these guidelines will improve the way that public health practitioners approach, record, and report diagnoses, moving away from a persistent emphasis on negative outcomes toward an approach based in integrated, holistic care.

The new classification also eliminated past guidelines that impose a normative standard for sexuality and removed all categorizations that selectively target people with same-sex orientation or gender nonconformity, with no clear public health justification. In addition, the new classification removed transsexualism and gender identity disorder from mental and behavioral disorders and moved them to a new chapter, thus destigmatizing individuals with gender incongruence and providing a foundation for better access to both biomedical and psychological treatments.

The World Association of Sexual Health (WAS) actively participated in all stages of the ICD revision process, by participating in a number of committees and working groups.

WHO is opening a new chapter in the management of sexual health problems. And WAS, as an international organization with more than one hundred member organizations across the globe, will continue to promote and advocate for sexual health and sexual rights throughout the lifespan and across the world by advancing sexuality research, comprehensive sexuality education, and clinical care and services for everyone. This includes research and advocacy to foster and develop better approaches to all aspects of sexual health, including sexual disorders and dysfunctions, paraphilia, genital pain, and problems in the context of reproductive health.