Sexuality is a key part of being human. Sexuality is not just about what our body does and what we do with our bodies; it’s how we feel, relate, and express ourselves.
Similarly, sexual health is not just about protecting our bodies from infections; it’s about having healthy relationships and sex that is pleasurable and fun.
Sexual health is one aspect of sexuality and is an important part of maintaining our overall health and wellbeing at every age and life stage. Yet, sex and sexuality are often taboo subjects. This is especially true when we’re young.
Young people’s sexuality often focuses on what adults don’t want us to do. Many adults want to keep young people safe from negative health outcomes, sexual violence, or difficult relationships but in doing so, they forget that sexuality is a normal and healthy part of being human. They may not see that young people are sexual beings too, even when they are not sexually active.
We’re constantly getting conflicting messages when we’re young – that we are too innocent and in need of “protection” or that we are too experienced and already sexually “uncontrollable.” And yet, nowhere in these messages are we told that our sexuality, joy, pleasure, and wellbeing matter. Nowhere are we told that our human rights related to sexuality (or sexual rights) matter.
Sexual rights are crucial to the realization of overall health and equity. They are essential to safety and dignity and to live free from discrimination and harm. The realization of sexual rights is essential to all human rights, empowerment, and freedom. For more information on how sexual rights are related to young people’s human rights and evolving capacities, visit Your Sexual Rights.