Fabulous post on Oxfam's #FP2P blog on including sexual health (and pleasure!) in the development agenda

Friday, October 24, 2014

Global health and human rights advocates have worked tirelessly for years against systemic oppression of women and sexual violence that present concrete barriers to women's health. Just this week, the global health community mourned the death of anti-FGM activist Efua Dorkenoo, and on Wednesday, Dr. Denis Mukwege - Congolese vaginal fistula surgeon, women's rights advocate, and all-around BAMF, won the Sakharov Thought Prize for his work. Obviously, all of this work is important. However, Oxfam's Chloe Safier argues that the development industry should focus on sexual well-being - specifically including sexual pleasure - as part of the strategy to combat gender inequality and promote bodily integrity a well-being:
The notion that sexual satisfaction and pleasure is a core aspect of people’s lives hasn’t gained traction amongst international development NGOs, nor in government agendas, donor agencies or in any international protocol. Sexual pleasure doesn’t make an appearance in Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index. There’s no ‘pleasure indicator’ in any widely published index, no UN report on who’s enjoying sex and why. This despite a widespread understanding since the 1980s, building on the work of Amartya Sen, that development must go beyond relieving economic poverty and towards an approach that is centered on human well-being, in which freedom of choice and desire fulfillment are fundamental.
Our present reality is that women and LGBTQI people in almost every part of the world have less power, access and voice than heterosexual cisgender men. The ways in which the patriarchy has been manifest in sexual enjoyment and rights is readily apparent. Female genital mutilation is recognized by many as an abuse of women’s bodies and can be directly linked to the ability to experience sexual pleasure; it’s an area of work where women’s right to sexual pleasure is implicit in the discussions, though explicitly it’s largely spoken about as a woman’s right to bodily integrity. Discrimination and ‘corrective rape’ of lesbian women – who pose a threat to men by taking pleasure in each other’s bodies – show how sexual pleasure can play a political and subversive role in a patriarchal, misogynist society (and can put some women and LGBTQI people at risk).
The full post is well worth the read.

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