Disability and Intimacy. – My Take by Jasmina Khanna
Our guest columnist this week is Mumbai systems engineer Jasmina Khanna. Jasmina talks about an important issue, one that is not talked about enough and that is disability and intimacy.
Very little has been written or spoken about disability and intimacy. A topic which people rarely dare to touch upon. Here is an insight into sexuality and its other biological aspects when it comes to disability.
Sexuality is a natural phenomenon not only for humans but rather for all living species. People with disabilities are also humans. They have similar desires and urges just like any other human being. They too long for close and intimate bondings.
Why we need to talk about ‘it’
Talking about intimacy, or even expressing about intimacy in a healthy context is considered a taboo in conservative countries like India. When it comes to disability and sexuality, words like sex and intimacy are alienated all the more from people with disabilities. When a person with disability reaches adolescence, in most cases they are not educated about the signs of puberty. This leaves them in bewilderment and shaken about the biological and hormonal changes in their bodies.
Time and again it has been espied that the menstrual cycle has been terminated through surgery of females with disability. This process has been carried out numerously without the permission and will of the disabled girl even though she may be mentally and physically capable of making decisions for herself. This could lead to consequential health effects on her body. Post surgery the girl tends to gain too much weight due to hormonal changes in her body at an early age. This weight gain gets hard to lose as it might be difficult for her to do physical exercises due to her disability. The repercussions of termination of the menstrual cycle have have to be borne by the girl and her loved ones throughout life as it gets difficult to care for a person with disability with heavy weight.
Lack of conversation has dangerous consequences
In today’s harsh and cruel world, sexual abuse with people with disability is an important subject that has been neglected largely. In most cases, they may not be aware that they are being sexually abused due to lack of knowledge. He/she may not envisage that they are being sexually abused. They are easy targets of people in their own surroundings. They can be taken for granted by their own loved ones, neighbours, caretakers, caregivers, etc, etc. This could be dangerous and lead to health hazards for a person with disability in many ways, physically, mentally and emotionally. It may put them into life long trauma.
Thus like any other young people young people with disabilities also need to be imparted with sexual health education for their health and well-being. Creating awareness about below points is of utmost importance.
- Avoid negative health consequences.
- Communicate about sexuality and sexual health.
- Understand healthy and unhealthy relationship.
- Understand, value and feel autonomy over their bodies.
- Respect ‘others’ right to bodily autonomy.
Read other blogs by Jasmina Khanna here.
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