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24/02/2014 INSEP-workshop Sexual Health


Op 24 februari 2014 organiseert het International Network for Sexual Ethics and Politics een workshop omtrent ‘sexual health’.

‘Sexual health’ has been a cause of increasing public concern across the Western world since the 1970’s. This has been fuelled particularly by concerns about the rising prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases amongst youth and the impact of HIV/AIDS on public consciousness about sexual risk, and a growing public awareness about sexual dysfunction, poor health and unhealthy deviation. But discussions on Sexual Health, on what it stands for, how to promote it and how it fits into a modernizing world have quickly taken on global, international and intercultural dimensions.

Perspectives on sexual health are rooted in both reproductive health and medicalised approaches and sexological approaches to sexual deviancy and prevalence/incidence in practices. However, more recently these roots have been worked into a more comprehensive notion of ‘health and well-being’. The WHO now characterizes Sexual Health as a ‘state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality, requiring a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.’ Sexual Health can no longer be seen as independent of other notions and issues like sexual rights, sexual well-being, pleasure, education, public health, women’s rights, sexual agency and self-determination, and other characteristics that reflect sexual freedom and diversity.

Increasingly, this broader ‘sexual health’ paradigm becomes a catalyst pushing and informing practices, policies and research agenda’s on local, international as well as on global scales. It now serves as a guiding framework and ideal in (inter)national public health, educational and development policies and research. It is setting the agenda in, e.g., sexology and sex therapy, social and psychological research. It informs and underpins policies and activism aimed at promoting women’s rights and gender justice, the acceptance and recognition of diverse sexualities and identities and a wider sense of re-conceiving the pathologies and prejudices that govern legal and policy approaches to sexuality in society.

‘Sexual Health’, in short, has become a project. Insofar as it is a project, its identity, constituency and development is open to divergent interpretations and visions. It is important that these interpretations and visions should not solely be driven by the voices of institutions, vested interests and authoritative and powerful professional and governing bodies. Discussions on Sexual Health should also be informed from the field and by the lived experience and sexual lives of those to whom the concept and policies are addressed.

In this workshop, we will seek to explore the project of ‘sexual health’ and its possible directions and futures. It will focus on sexological and therapeutic research and perspectives and normative and evaluative positions on redefining and reconceiving Sexual Health.  It is envisaged that this workshop will be both a day of discussion and exploration in itself, and a first meeting of what we hope will be a developing project within the network, with further workshops and publication possibilities.

Contributors in this first workshop include Dr. Meg Barker (The Open University, UK), Prof. Ann Buysse (UGent, BE) and Paul Reynolds (Edge Hill University, UK).

INSEP Workshop – Sexual Health – Sexological, Therapeutic and Normative Perspectives.
INSEP – International Network for Sexual Ethics and Politics
Ghent University – Monday 24 February 2014 – Room 130.007
Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry (CEVI)
Ghent University – Faculty of Arts & Philosophy
Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

Attendance is free, but registration is required. Please email to
Should you wish to offer a short presentation (20 mins) at the workshop, please contact the organizers by emailing to
Prof. Tom Claes – INSEP &CEVI, Ghent University
Paul Reynolds – Edge Hill University, UK.