Free enjoyment and expression of sexuality is a human right

22 06 2009

I am a bit late on posting this but on June 10th, the New York based International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) launched the world’s first declaration of sexual rights in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  The declaration, Sexual Rights: An IPPF Declaration, is the result of two years of hard work by a multi-disciplinary team guided by the belief that sexuality is an essential part of our humanity and that free expression of sexuality falls under one’s human rights.  The Declaration promotes the enjoyment and experience of sexuality outside of reproduction.

Carmen Barroso, IPPF regional director for the Western hemisphere, said, “We want states to commit themselves to protecting these rights, and for the United Nations to adopt them in future meetings.”  Latin American governments are suspended by inertia when it comes to issues around sexual health because while they may agree to proposals for different sexual health issues, they never get translated or concretized into public policies.  Furthermore, the United States has a powerful conservative lobby against sexual health issues.

Other barriers that contribute the slow progress of sexual rights in Latin America, and other countries around the world, include poverty, lack of education, gender inequities, class inequities, racial or ethnic tensions, as well as regional tensions between the privileged and the underprivileged.

This declaration is incredibly important because it has a more sex positive paradigm where sexual pleasure is valued and placed at the forefront of the discussion.  When it comes to issues around sexual health the dialogue tends to center mostly around sexual assault or other forms of sexual violence.  While this is important as well, it is important to approach sexual health from a more holistic manner and to transform the paradigm from focusing on sexual violence to sexual pleasure.  Pleasure is often missing from the equation, especially because women aren’t supposed to feel or express sexual desire or pleasure, so it is excellent that this declaration champions sexual pleasure as a right.

For more information on the Declaration check out this Alternet article.