WORLD SEXUAL HEALTH DAY 2020
Dear colleagues, the opportunity has once again come to promote World Sexual Health Day throughout the world in a concerted effort!
Background and Goal
Since 2010, WAS has invited many audiences to celebrate World Sexual Health and join this initiative to promote sexual health, well-being and rights for all. This initiative proposed by the then President Rosemary Coates of Australia has become a key strategy to bring our themes and socialize the mission of the World Association for Sexual Health.
“Sexual pleasure in times of COVID-19”
If the language or translation of the slogan can be misleading or misinterpreted for cultural or linguistic reasons in any country or region, it can be adapted while keeping its basic spirit.
The new world situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) requires special attention due to the confinement, social distance and hygiene measures recommended for its control, as well as the health, social and economic consequences after de-escalation of the measures mentioned to return to normalize life.
In each region of the world, the infection with COVID-19 has come at a different time, with a different incidence and with different governmental measures, but in society there will be significant social effects on sexual health, in couple relationships, in family relationships, in social relations and in mental health, as well as there will be economic difficulties due to the loss of many jobs, which will be the main sources of concern.
Sexual health and rights are an important public health problem that requires specific attention in times of pandemic and, therefore, the World Association for Sexual Health wants to focus our attention on their protection and on promoting gender equality and respect for sexual diversity.
We must remember that sexual health is defined as a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality that requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relations, as well as the possibility of having pleasant and safe sexual experiences, free from all coercion, discrimination and violence (WHO, 2002).
In the same way that diseases affect women and men differently, the pandemic situation increases existing inequalities between women and girls, as well as discrimination of minority population groups by any condition (functional diversity, LGTBIQ population, immigrants, etc.).
In times of crisis, such as the quarantine situation, women and girls are at increased risk of intimate partner violence, sexual abuse, and family violence as a result of increasing tensions in the home from confinement. They also face increased risks from other forms of gender violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse in these situations.
Women represent the largest workforce in the health and care sector in the world. Therefore, they are more exposed to having more health problems by being in the front line of action. Similarly, it is important to guarantee continuity of care in the event of an interruption or alteration of sexual health care services due to the diversion of resources to face the infection and the lack of health supplies due to shortages.
Providing mental and psychosocial health support for individuals, families, the community, and the staff who serve basic services is critical to maintaining health and rights. Surveillance and response systems must take into account aspects such as sex, gender, age, risk factors for health reasons, employment status and pregnancy status.
WAS collaboration and alliances with WHO, UNFPA and other United Nations agencies to support Ministries of Health and other Ministries related to pandemic control are essential to ensure correct information on precautions to avoid infection and potential risks associated with sexual activity and the risks of increased violence against women, children and the most vulnerable population groups. It is also important for WAS to advise on seeking health care and psychosocial aids.
It must be pointed out that individual protection protects others from getting sick, that life must go on and that sexuality is an inseparable and essential part of human beings.
Nevertheless, we should also focus on positive outcomes of sexual activity, an in line with our declaration on sexual pleasure (https://worldsexualhealth.net/resources/declaration-on-sexual-pleasure/). This situation is also an opportunity to celebrate and promote sexual pleasure, to highlight the possibilities of accessing a pleasurable sexual life, free of coercion, motivating people to pursuit positive outcomes from sexual activity, exploring their bodies and relationships. Confinement can also help to explore new forms of sexual expression, or take back some of our preferred ones. It can also trigger a thoughtful inspection of the role that sexuality has in our lives. Even though transmission and inequality are important aspects of such a pandemic, it is important to be aware and not fall into a hygienist discourse that pushes explicitly or implicitly people to live their sexual lives under fear and external pressure.
We can have as undertone questions: How has confinement contributed to exploring your sexuality? What new forms of experiencing pleasure have you discovered?
From the World Association for Health we want to focus on the positive aspects of the triangle: sexual rights, sexual health and sexual pleasure, given that the programs focused on fear, danger, disease and death that associated with sexual behavior often produce opposite effects to those desired, while health programs that incorporate sexual pleasure improve attitudes and knowledge about sexual health, communication with partners and safe sex practices as part of each person’s sexual repertoire.
Furthermore, the World Association for Sexual Health urges all states and nations to ensure that everyone’s human and sexual rights are recognized and respected, and that the rights and access to sexual and reproductive health services are not violated by new policies or measures to manage the pandemic. Human, sexual, and reproductive rights, equality, and a free and just society should not be sacrificed in the process https://worldsexualhealth.net/sexual-rights-in-the-context-of-the-global-covid-19-crisis/.