The sexual and reproductive rights and benefit derived from sexual and reproductive health services of people with physical disabilities in South Africa: beliefs of non-disabled people

Article


Hunt, Xanthe, Swartz, Leslie, Carew, Mark, Braathen, Stine Hellum, Chiwaula, Mussa and Rohleder, P. 2017. The sexual and reproductive rights and benefit derived from sexual and reproductive health services of people with physical disabilities in South Africa: beliefs of non-disabled people. Reproductive Health Matters. 25 (50), pp. 66-79.
AuthorsHunt, Xanthe, Swartz, Leslie, Carew, Mark, Braathen, Stine Hellum, Chiwaula, Mussa and Rohleder, P.
Abstract

There is a body of theoretical work, and some empirical research, which suggests that non-disabled
people assume people with physical disabilities not to be suitable romantic partners, not have sexual
drives or desires, or not be sexually active. Access to sexual and reproductive health services for the
latter group is a challenge: it has been proposed that people with physical disabilities face barriers to
sexual health care access which are structural (such as inaccessible health care provider offices) as
well as social (such as health care providers suggesting that people with physical disabilities should
not procreate). The present paper explores non-disabled South Africans’ beliefs concerning the
degree to which individuals have sexual and reproductive rights, and benefit from sexual and
reproductive healthcare, for people with physical disabilities and people without disability. Using a
survey, we asked 1,989 South Africans to estimate the degree to which people with physical
disabilities and people without disability have sexual rights, and benefit from sexual and
reproductive healthcare services, respectively. Respondents were more likely to support the idea
that the population without disability were deserving of sexual rights compared to people with
physical disabilities. Respondents were also more likely to rate the degree to which people with
physical disability benefit from sexual and reproductive healthcare as less than that for people
without physical disabilities. These findings provide some of the first empirical support that nondisabled
people perceive people with physical disabilities as having fewer sexual and reproductive
rights, and deriving less benefit from sexual and reproductive health services, than the population
without disability. To have diminished sexual rights, and benefit less from sexual and reproductive
healthcare, we suggest, evinces a negation of the sexual and reproductive needs and capacity of
people with physical disabilities.

Keywordspersons with physical disabilities; sexuality; sexual and reproductive health rights; sexual rights; reproductive healthcare; access; disability studies; South Africa
JournalReproductive Health Matters
Journal citation25 (50), pp. 66-79
ISSN0968-8080
1460-9576
Year2017
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY-NC-ND
File Access Level
Repository staff only
Publisher's version
License
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/09688080.2017.1332949
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1080/09688080.2017.1332949
Publication dates
Online05 Jul 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited08 Jun 2017
Accepted23 May 2017
Accepted23 May 2017
FunderNational Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa
International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH)
National Research Foundation
International Foundation of Applied Disability Research
Copyright information© 2017 The authors.
LicenseCC BY 4.0
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