A major gulf in care for disabled

Updated: 2015-01-16 07:10

By Yang Wanli(China Daily Europe)

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There is a massive disconnect between specialists in the fields of sexuality and disability in China, says Alessandra Aresu, director of the China division of Handicap International, an independent organization that works with local partners to help the disabled.

"In fact, to work on sexuality and disability, it's important to be familiar with both areas, but until very recently experts in these two fields had not worked together," she says.

"Very few experts are capable of working on both sexuality and disability at the same time. This is one of the main reasons why so little has been done in this field in China."

Aresu says other countries have been addressing this issue, especially the United Kingdom and Australia, where health workers are leading the discussion about the sexual rights of disabled people.

It is erroneous to think that people with disabilities have no sexual desires, she says. It is a misconception that often causes their needs and rights to be overlooked and deprives them of access to sexual and reproductive health services and information, she adds.

In the United States, disabled children and their parents can consult a number of different sources - including the Sexuality Information and Education Council, the Sexuality and Disability Training Center, and the Sexual Health Network - about sex education. Professional assistance is also available to associations for specific types of disability, such as autism or those with spinal cord injuries.

Resources dedicated to the issue are also growing. In 2009, the World Health Organization's Department of Reproductive Health and Research and the UN Population Fund jointly published a guidance note on the promotion of sexual and reproductive health for people with disabilities, the full text of which is available on the WHO website.

(China Daily European Weekly 01/16/2015 page25)