EXPERIENCE AND CHALLENGES WHILE WORKING WITH PERSONS WITH DISABILITY – GRADUALLY CREATING SPACE FOR PUBLIC DISCUSSION REGARDING THE SEXUAL NEEDS OF EVERY HEALTHY AND EVERY INDIVIDUAL WITH DISABILITY, AS AN ACT OF SELF-PLEASURE
Authors: Hristina MITREVA
Number of views: 364
The professionals working with persons with developmental disabilities started to publically discuss the problems that these persons have related to fulfilling their sexual needs as well as the essential need of adapted sexual education for them. Since there is no longer a breach for ignoring the everyday existence of this reality, on 02.11.2011 at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje was held very interesting and practical conference with the subject: "Experiences and challenges while working with persons with disability". This event was organized by the association for health, education and research – H.E.R.A., an organization that impeccably fights for popularization and expansion of the policy supporting the sexual needs of the persons with disability. The initiative itself showed that Macedonia is no longer afraid or reluctant to talk in public on the subject that is generally being avoid, which is unfortunately even more vulnerable and sensitive when persons with disabilities are concerned.
At the beginning of this gathering, introduction was given by Mila Caroska who is the program coordinator of the program for approach-H.E.R.A. She greeted the participants and thanked for the expressed interest on the issue. Afterwards Doc. Dr. Zoran Kitkanj thanked the organizers for enabling a concept with theme that has great interest, emphasizing that sexuality of children in the period of development and the sexual abuse are serious problem for everyone and for the same thing should openly be discussed. Right after his presentation, Eleonora Nikolovska gave an introduction as a representative of the city of Skopje, at the department for child and social protection of children. Trough her presentation she talked about current and future priority plans in the field of social and health protection. She also highlighted the productive collaboration of the department together with the organization „Poraka“ (Message). This organization sets and achieves goals while creating an environment for direct collaboration in certain areas or for certain issues and has a goal to achieve their actualization, implementation and creation of a better future. At the end of the interdictory part, a presentation was given by the executive director Bojan Jovanovski who expressed great appreciation to the Faculty of Philosophy and the Institute for Special Education in regards to their unselfish and consistent support of the project H.E.R.A. He confirmed that, because of the inaccessibility of the sexual education and its mandatory implementation within the schools, the organization takes great swing and advocacy for sexual education of the children. This issue in our country is unfortunately still being avoided, creating big barriers and challenges, especially for the persons with disabilities. He highlighted that even though sexuality is inconvenient topic for a discussion; their motto remains to be popularization and expansion of the sexual education, the rights and protection, as well as the right for pleasure and enjoyment of sexuality that is a part of every person’s life.
Further, along the program followed several presentations by the organizers and the people who were directly involved in the issue, as well as a time for open discussion was considered at the end of every presentation.
The first presentation was given by Mila Caroska a program coordinator of the program for approach H.E.R.A., in which she presented what this organization has done so far and the adequate goals that the organization has set in the domain of team effort. Trough her comprehensible presentation she emphasized the sexual rights of the persons with disabilities, including and underlining that when it comes down to the question of sexual activity, these individuals should not be discriminated. On the contrary, they should have the same sexual rights as the residual population. She also presented relevant recommendations for the persons with disabilities and their sexuality, with clear goals which, despite the development of appropriate politics and sexual education, their essential part is to support the right of every person to enjoy, regardless of their handicap.
Further, M-r Olivera Rašič started her presentation with practical information for her research with the topic "Sexual behavior, sexual education and prevention from sexual abuse of persons with disability". She defined particular terms and showed in details the types of unaccepted sexual behavior and actions towards the children with disabilities. Trough the presentation could be noticed the urgent necessity of adequate and adapted sexual education for these individuals. The presence of sexual activity of the disabled should not be neglected or considerate aimless, despite of their handicap. The results unfortunately showed that the sexual abuse of the persons with disabilities is evident, leading to recommendation for serious approach towards the education, prevention and protection of these persons. The practical results gave an idea that shouldn’t be ignored, but must be considered as an inevitable action where a need for constant and professional involvement exists.
Further, Doc. Dr. Zoran Kitkanj held a presentation with the topic "Sexual abuse, problems in practice". He emphasized the sexual abuse of children as a very important part that is currently unfortunately increasing. He stated that the term sexual abuse includes not only violent force over the child to sexual intercourse, but also other sexual activities such as showing porn materials, rude cuddling with the intimate parts of their body and other although not much impressive but crucial signs of existing sexual abuse and harassment over the children. As a professional in the legal part, he underlined the punishment for these shameful acts, such as initiation of actions and procedures for sanctioning the abusers. Luckily, he had numerous experiences that he unselfishly shared with the visitors in the auditorium, in many ways educating them of the possible signs, symptoms and acts over children that could be a sign of the presence of sexual abuse.
In the second part of this conference, Prof. Dr. Vladimir Trajkovski, the president of the Macedonian scientific association for Autism gave a presentation with the topic "Sexually transmitted diseases at persons with disability". Because of the insufficient records of the persons infected with sexual diseases in Macedonia, he decided to share information from the USA. First he presented what sexually transmitted diseases actually are and what kinds of diseases exist.
Very important point was made saying that persons with disabilities should continuously attend gynecological examination, due to asymptomatic signs showing that they can develop much more serious consequences. It was emphasized that the presence of some kind of handicap does not have to mean that the persons with disabilities are not sexually active. On the contrary, they are sexual active and in the Western countries there are adequate persons that are paid to sexually satisfy these individuals. Among the other, individuals with disabilities also are more exposed to and victims of sexual harassment. Trough the presentation he showed realistic barriers witch the persons with disabilities encounter. As a result of the poor medical conditions and the in adapted means, the assessment very often can give incomplete or incorrect results. Impolite behavior of the professional staff can also prevent the persons with handicap to ask for help, while barriers in the communication can create serious obstruction in performing appropriate assessment. However, it was emphasized that need for sexual education, good media coverage and a project that will include this serious problem exist.
Afterwards, Vlado Krstovski, the director of the RCPLIP, talked about "The role of NGO’s in the improvement of the conditions of the persons with disabilities in the Republic of Macedonia". He presented his involvement trough setting up a civil sector that deals with elaboration, evaluation and implementation of the politics for sexual rights and the persons with disability. He underlined clearly that continuous effort should be placed on the sexual education such as respecting the human rights regardless of physical or psychical disabilities. He recommended the audience to take a look in the given brochure that explains the existing politics and to think in which way they can take a part in order to contribute in more practical and efficient use.
At the end of the conference there were remarkable presentations inspired from the practical experiences working in the special institutions in Skopje, Štip and Gostivar. The professional staff very explicitly and realistically presented their own results, methods, assets, ways and approaches of work, that they have applied with a goal to accomplish the program of sexual satisfaction of the persons with disability. Real situations, problems and solutions were shared with the audience having a chance to get useful information for their own practical work. Interesting discussions and questions were open of the evident problems that the persons with disabilities have, to which were given unselfish and professional answers. At the end it was concluded that this project should continue aiming for welfare of these persons, such as arising the awareness of the parents who need to understand that the sexual need is part of every person, including their children with disability.
At last was created an event where a chance to speak openly about the everyday life was given, which aimed for elimination of the sensitivity and increase of the understanding that the lack of public discussion will not bring solutions that will improve life quality.