Policy Audit: Sexuality and Disability in Policies Affecting Chinese People with Disabilities

IDS Evidence Report
Li, Z. and Xiaopei, H.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS)
Publication date: 
Monday, 15 December, 2014

This policy audit examines the cultural, political and economic spheres in China from the perspective of people with disabilities. Through a series of case studies we argue that the heteronormative assumptions that underpin disability policies do not recognise the sexual desires and sexual needs of people with disabilities. Therefore, laws, families and society at large treat sexual behaviours among people with disabilities as abnormal, and the disabled as people who need to be arrested, invisible and even criminalised. Not only do the current laws and regulations fail to recognise people with disabilities as sexual beings and as having sexual needs, they also give power to guardians to have complete authority to control the sexuality of people with disabilities, all in the name of care, responsibility and law. These omissions in law result in lack of sex education, services and opportunities for people with disabilities, and leave little space for them to fulfil their sexual needs and desires, but too many chances to get infected with sexually transmitted diseases and/or HIV, and experience sexual frustration and devastation.

  • Law-makers and policymakers at the national level should involve people with disabilities and grass-roots organisations in the consultation processes, to guarantee their needs and desires are represented and reflected in the policies and laws that are relevant to them
  • Local and regional ministries that are responsible for implementing national policies should integrate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights across national policies and provide better access to sexual health resources for people with disabilities
  • NGOs and the civil society sector working on disability issues need to work across fields with NGOs working on sexuality issues to reach a better understanding of disability and sexuality issues
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