Sexual Services for the Disabled: When Law goes Against Human Rights

Sexual services for the disabled is often a topic of controversy.
Depending on where in the world you are living, the laws regarding the selling and buying of sexual services vary drastically. In Canada, the laws themselves are a bit of a double-edged sword. It is legal to sell sexual services, yet it is illegal to purchase them. This law was of course implemented in favor of the sex workers and set in place in order to protect these individuals as much as possible within the means of the law.

In reality, not everyone shares the same opinion on the moral or righteous aspect of prostitution. Some are completely for the practice, while others are strictly against it. Nonetheless, everyone holds an opinion on the matter. However, when it comes to talking about sex and the disabled, their needs often go unnoticed.

Unfortunately, the sexual desires of the disabled are often overlooked. More often than not these needs are overlooked by their primary care-givers. Albeit, not being the most comfortable conversation to have with your patient (or better yet, your own child!) this sense of pretending that their libidos don’t exist is absolutely absurd.


Disabled ≠ Sexless

Physical limitations and restraints by no means erase one’s desire and need for human contact and sexual release.

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A lot of the times, misconceptions arise regarding, for example, people in wheelchairs not being able to have sex. “Well they’re paralyzed, so they obviously can’t have sex…” and we leave it at that without pondering further into the matter.

Of course, it is more complex than that. Everyone’s condition is different and every disabled person has their own personal constraints. Different nerves along the spinal cord control different physiological functions, and therefore depending on where the damage occurred, different men will experience different outcomes. In fact, men who have suffered spinal cord injuries may still get erect with what is called reflexogenic erections. A reflex erection may occur via direct stimulation and only if the damage did not affect the S2-S4 sacral vertebrae.

Some men have also expressed being able to experience orgasmic sensations. These orgasms may not be identical to what the average man experiences, but it is still pleasurable nonetheless. Similarly, with women, the sensations may not be comparable to let’s say before the injury occurred, however, the body of a quadriplegic woman having sex will respond in the same way as a non-disabled body would. The heartbeat will increase, blood pressure will rise, blood vessels will dilate and so on.


Openly closed-minded

Perhaps the saddest part about all of this is how the majority of society will disregard the topic entirely. Whether it be subconsciously or actively, not nearly enough people think twice about the issue, let alone try to come forth with solutions.

This is a bit odd when you think about it. Canada is known for its openness regarding sexuality. Gay marriage is legal and organizations work hard in trying to create equality when it comes to sex and sexuality. So why not focus a little bit of that energy on the needs of the disabled?

As previously mentioned, the laws in Canada forbid the purchase of sexual services. Therefore, a disabled person would be charged just as harshly as an abled one if they were caught purchasing these services. Not only would they face the challenge of finding a sex worker willing to work with the disabled, but the added burden of being involved in criminal activity may add unnecessary stress, anxiety and simply put a damper on the whole situation.

This is not to say that all disabled individuals are incapable of getting sex on their own. In fact, there are many disabled couples living happily together that enjoy sexual relations. There are also, of course, inter-able couples, a term used to describe a romantic relationship that includes both an able-bodied partner and a disabled one. Physical restrictions, however, may make it more challenging to go out and seek partners or even to pleasure themselves on their own. So several issues arise that an able-bodied individual will never experience.


The Netherlands: open-mindedness at its finest

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If we were to look elsewhere around the globe, we can see a drastically different approach to the matter and hopefully, our laws may one day follow in these same footsteps.

The Netherlands is a country that is known for its laissez-faire attitude towards many activities that would elsewhere be considered criminal. Legal marijuana use and escort services, for example, have been legalized way before the rest of us have even considered these topics.

The Dutch have a sort of idealized outlook for those with lenient and easy-going views. When it comes to their disabled population, the Netherlands puts extra effort into making sure to treat them as equals, giving them special and unique benefits when it comes to terms of sexual services.


Sexual service benefits

With prostitution as a whole legalized in the Netherlands (i.e. the legalization of both buying and selling), the government deems sexual services to be a right that everyone should be able to enjoy. Without any loopholes in the legalization of prostitution (in comparison to Canadian laws and restrictions), everyone, including the disabled, is able to participate in the system.

Being fully aware of the physical constraints that some disabled people may encounter, the government has implemented a sort of benefit program for this specific issue. This program allows for the benefits of the disabled to be used in any such way they please.

This means that while there is no direct “sex grant,” the disability money granted to these individuals can be used for sexual services. Certain benefit programs even allow them to have access to sexual services 12 times a year, or the equivalent to once a month. A reasonable and generous benefit that keeps the natural needs of the disabled in check. Much as how Canadians may be entitled to certain work benefits such as massages, dentist appointments etcetera, the disabled are entitled to these unique and special services just like the rest of us.


The health benefits of sex

The controversy, of course, arises from this issue with perhaps more of the prudish folk opposing the use of their hard-working tax payer’s money for such use. Yet, the main argument against this would be: equality.

The use of sex workers for the disabled does not only offer the client sexual release, but it allows the user to reap the benefits of the peripheral advantages that sex has to offer. For many disabled individuals, their lack of human physical contact is extremely profound.

It is scientifically proven and frankly, common knowledge that physical touch and affection are essential to our mental well-being.  Therefore, rather than viewing this topic from a prudish standpoint about promoting the sex industry, it should be viewed as a means of upholding and addressing health concerns for the disabled.

The mental well-being of many disabled individuals is already quite compromised. With the burden of being eternally ostracized from the activities that most of us take for granted, along with a plethora of other constraints, the disabled have a lot to deal with. So it would be fair to say that some stress-reducing and pleasurable sexual activities would be beneficial.


Sex is our right

While we don’t usually consider sex to be a human right, what with it being so natural and primordial and all, it is becoming apparent that by restricting the disabled from having legal sex, we are essentially stripping some of them of this right entirely.

In terms of the way we treat our disabled, we seem to be pretty on par in consideration of their needs… except when it comes to this one aspect.

Should we look up to the Dutch and try to emulate their methods? Should Canadian prostitution laws be re-evaluated? These are all loaded questions that don’t have a simple answer. Perhaps in the future, these laws will change.

As for now, the best thing that we can do is not to sweep these issues under the rug. Do not overlook the basic human needs that we all share. Try to inform yourself as much as possible about the issue. Knowledge is power and it is with that power that we can make changes for the better.