General Articles

World Association of Sexual Health Marks Dec. 10 as Human Rights Day

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’

Opening words of the Declaration of Human Rights



On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) asserts that sexual health is fundamental to the well being of all people. It is much more than the absence of disease. The promotion and protection of individual sexual rights provides optimal conditions to ensure sexual health. Sexual rights include the following values.
Gender equality and equity
Access to universal, comprehensive and evidenced-based sexuality education
Access to a wide range of sexual health resources, including fertility management
Freedom of choice in adult sexual relationships
Freedom from discrimination based on gender, gender identity, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation physical or mental capacity
Freedom from gender based violence and coercive sex
Mutual respect and individual autonomy
Freedom to experience and express sexual pleasure
These are fundamental and universal rights.
Irrespective of gender, gender identity, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation or personal capacity we all have the right to experience the pleasures of sexual intimacy, free from coercion, legal or social sanctions, or personal criticism. Observation of the responsibilities attendant upon the exercise of our rights is equally valued.
Women’s sexual rights are of particular concern in that women have far less freedom than men regarding choice of sexual partner, fertility management and disease prevention. Central to the lives of women and girls is their reproductive health. To have the capacity to make informed choices regarding if and when to have children, the number and spacing of those children and to have appropriate ante- and post-natal care is fundamental to their individual well-being and to the well-being of society.
WAS gives particular attention to the protection of children who are the victims of sexual abuse.  Governments have moral and legal obligations to provide prevention measures, protection and treatment. Every child has a fundamental right to bodily integrity and to spend their childhood in an atmosphere of trust and caring.
Making special provisions to meet the sexual and relationship needs of people with a physical or intellectual disability, or for those with chronic illness, should be a priority for governments. WAS is a strong supporter of sexuality education that provides protection, teaches social skills and optimizes options that allow individuals to make informed choices.
Personal autonomy depends upon the ability of the individual to make informed, responsible choices. In order to be able to achieve this, the individual must have access to evidence based sexuality education from appropriately trained educators. The provision of a wide range of resources enhances peoples’ capacity to maintain their own physical and mental sexual health. Above all, learning to value and respect others enhances relationships and makes for a more harmonious world.
Dr. Rosemary Coates
World Association for Sexual Health
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