Mapping the terrain of disability and sexuality: from policy to practice

Mapping the terrain of disability and sexuality: from policy to practice – that is the title of the first publication from my project which has now been published in the Japanese international journal Ars Vivendi! It is part of a special section called Disabled Women and Sexuality and all articles are available online here. Below is the summary of my paper:

This paper is based on a lecture held in Nagoya, Japan as part of a seminar on issues relating to disabled women, sexuality and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). I present preliminary results from the research project Sexual Citizenship and Disability: Implications for Theory, Practice and Policy, which focuses on sexual rights for people with mobility impairments. The data comprises policy analysis and interviews with organizations working with sexuality and disability issues in Sweden, the Netherlands, England and Australia. While this paper has a somewhat broader approach than the seminar in Nagoya, the themes are nevertheless relevant to disabled women. I give examples of policies and work by organizations around disabled women’s rights, sex education, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and different kinds of sexual support services. The research demonstrates the variability of how sexual rights are understood and their culturally-specific nature. It shows how the personal is indeed political: states’ different policy approaches change the outcomes for disabled people in terms of support to explore and express their sexualities. The role of the disability movement, and which issues it takes up, is also influenced by the policy landscape. This highlights how some of the organizations inadvertently adapt to what is deemed as ‘policy-relevant’ and how sexual rights are often less a priority than other rights – especially in times of austerity.

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