Volume 37 Number 5
Published: October 1, 2006
Sexuality and sexual rights have generally been treated as secondary to the ‘really important matters’. This article explores the linkages between sexual rights and other rights which are considered to be priorities in development, such as health, education and labour rights. This article does not argue that sexual rights are of equal importance to these other rights. Instead, it asserts that sexual rights are all these rights, in that sexuality and social norms surrounding it have huge impacts on health, education and work. The author cites evidence of female genital mutilation as well as ‘symbolic mutilations’ of women’s desire, including shame and guilt, having direct effects on physical and mental health and well-being; feminine boys and pregnant girls being more likely to drop out of school due to bullying, social pressure and lack of support; and employers and colleagues discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people at work. Sexual rights are integral to other human rights. Pretending this is not the case will only weaken our broader rights strategies.