Insight: April 12

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This week on SBS, Insight looks at two issues that are definitely not mutually exclusive: sex and disability.

“There’s a perception that either people with disabilities are asexual or that they’re overtly sexual.” –Dr Kerry Arrow – Clinical psychologist

Imagine: you’ve been married to your partner for 25 years. You live with them, love them, are sexually attracted to them, but physical intimacy? Almost impossible.

This is the reality for David and Jenni Heckendorf, who both have profound cerebral palsy that greatly limits their mobility. In order to have sex, they must use the services of a sex worker – a process of extreme trust, vulnerability and financial cost.

They successfully lobbied to use their NDIS funding to access their sex worker, but others are restricted by state laws and regulations around sex work.

What if your child had an intellectual disability? How do you teach them about all the nuances of sex and sexuality: consent, attraction, pleasure, emotion, consequences?

And what happens, if and when kids come along? What is the most ethical course of action?

Guests include:

David and Jenni Heckendorf – Couple
“In theory, [having assistance from a sex worker] is great. In practice, it took a lot of debriefing and reflection, finding a morality that didn’t destroy our sanctity of the marriage.”

Kelly Vincent MLC – Dignity for Disability Party, SA
“There’s certainly a lot of debate going on here in South Australia about whether in the event that sex work was decriminalised, whether people with disabilities would be able to use their funding for these types of services.”

Rachel Wotton – Sex worker
“There’s lots of ways to get informed consent… you’re always giving verbal and non-verbal communication and consent to what you like and what you don’t like, and that’s the same with my clients [with disabilities] as well.”

Liz Dore – Relationships counsellor
“People haven’t taught them about good sex, bad sex, masturbation in private in a way that they understand. We do it for reading, we do it for maths, we do it for travel training, why not for ways to satisfy your sexual feelings safely and privately?”

Vaughan Adkinin and Marina Tadej-Adkinin – Couple
Marina: “I adore children and we’re practicing at the moment.”

Kerry Stubbs – Northcott Disability Services
“People with a disability are adults who have rights to make choices about their lives. They can make good choices, they can make bad choices according to their own set of moral codes and if it’s legal, they’re entitled to make those choices. It’s not up to us to decide what their choices should be.”

Moreen Lyons – Whistleblower, Yooralla disability service
“Staff and people in positions of authority and a duty of trust and care were grooming disabled people… to become their personal sexual partners. And when these matters first came to light, they weren’t dealt with appropriately. They were viewed as simply perhaps a bit of inappropriate sexual harassment.”

Tuesdays at 8.30pm on SBS.

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