Sex care in the Netherlands is becoming more socially accepted. Here is how sex care organizations in Holland are helping the disabled find intimacy.
Sexuality is generally associated with youth and good health. This means that mentally and physically ill people are usually not seen as ‘sexual beings’. The fact that they are unable to perform circus-like antics in bed does not mean that they have no need for sex or intimacy. There are several studies that indicate that the experience of sexuality and intimacy contributes to an increased standard of living.
Intimate touches are equally important to everyone — young, old, sick, or healthy and can be defined as basic life needs. What does this mean for chronically ill people and people with a physical disability or a psychiatric disorder who do not get the chance to experience sexuality the way able-bodied people do?
Here in the Netherlands, professionals in healthcare, such as nurses, therapists, social workers and psychologists, treat and care for clients on the basis of different areas of life. Nevertheless, sexuality is often not part of the treatment. More than one million people with a disability live in the Netherlands, according to figures from the statistics arm of the Dutch government. The disabilities can be physical, mental or psychological and a lot is being done to help this group of people enjoy sexual relations just like their able-bodied counterparts.
What is sex care and how does it work in the Netherlands?
Sex care is sexual service for people with severe physical or mental disabilities. It is often done by professionals with a background in health care. This type of care is focused on intimacy, physical touch and sexual satisfaction for disabled clients. Consider, for example, people who, due to their disability, are no longer able to satisfy themselves. If they do not receive the help they need, it could happen that they are always frustrated and unhappy.
Of course, not all disabled people use this service but studies have shown that the ones who do are usually happy and able less frustrated due to the fact that every human being needs physical touch and intimacy, disabled or not.
How does sex care work in the Netherlands?
Disabled and chronically ill people often crawl into their shells and some are even known to be ashamed of their sexual desires. This is mostly due to the fact that most disabled people are seen as “disgusting” when they express a desire for sexual relations with other people. For example, a disabled person isn’t expected to flirt as most people will see them as ‘perverts’ if they do.
In the Netherlands, there are various organisations where people who can be described as ‘erotic service providers’ work. These people help tear down the taboo on sexuality and people in vulnerable groups, such as psychiatric patients or people with disabilities. A sex care worker can be hired for a fee by a family member or social professional, or by the person for whom the sex service is intended.
What is the purpose of sex care in the Netherlands?
The goal of sex care is to provide intimacy and sex to disabled people and also help get rid of the mentality that it’s “weird” for disabled people to be interested in sex or even want to engage in sexual relations with other people. The result of this is an increased standard of living or also improved quality of life, and an improved sense of well-being for disabled persons.
This means that feelings of sadness and loneliness tend to decrease or even disappear. The fact that disabled people are given the opportunity to be themselves and embrace their sexualities despite being handicapped helps them live fulfilled and happy lives.
The effects of sex care in the Netherlands
Sex care seems to have quite the positive effects in the Netherlands; both for the disabled person and for those around them. There are figures to back up how important sex care has been so far. There were cases of disabled people being lonely and frustrated due to a lack of intimacy in their lives and some of them even struggled to adjust. These disabled folks were known to go into fits of anger, especially against those family members who had refused to allow them access to sex care. When they finally got the care they needed, it played an important role in helping them find happiness and fulfilment in their lives.
In most cases, the family members of the disabled persons wanted the sex care to be kept a secret, so they got the sex carers to be as discreet as possible. Some sex care workers admitted to being ‘sneaked’ into the house of their clients, especially through their backdoors.
In addition, they also described how both social professionals and family members of the clients constantly find it difficult to discuss the sexual wishes and needs of the handicapped client. A few religious and conservative families never consider sex care for their disabled family members as that would be against their religion. “It’s as disgusting as fornication”, they say. The problem is, to these conservative and religious folks, sex is only reserved for marriage.
But how can a disabled person ever have sex if marriage isn’t an option for them? Many people don’t want to have a relationship with, let alone marry disabled people.
Professionals and organisations that help people with disabilities in finding intimacy have spoken out against regarding sex care as a taboo. Openly talking about it helps a lot. Experts feel that this goes a long way in helping handicapped people deal with their disabilities because by not avoiding the subject of sexuality and intimacy, and by discussing it openly, we acknowledge and accept disabled people as a “human beings” with intimate, sexual desires which are perfectly normal.
Opinions on sex care in Holland
Being open-minded in the Netherlands on matters regarding sex care, the disabled and sexuality remains the key to making sure that people with disabilities are not alienated or made to feel like they aren’t supposed to have sexual urges. Their sexual needs are no different from those of the average person. The idea is that no one should be deprived of sex, purely due to physical limitations.
Luckily, the Netherlands is slowly accepting the fact that it is normal for disabled people to want sex and intimacy in their lives and they should be able to have easy access to that. This is something other countries need to emulate. Life is unpredictable and an unexpected accident could turn a fully able-bodied individual into a disabled person. Intimacy and sex shouldn’t have to disappear from their lives just because of that!
As one disabled man once said: “the beauty of sex care in the Netherlands is that you can freely go on a journey to discover your sexuality without feeling shame or guilt. You are a human being just like everyone else and it is your right to live your life to the fullest — disabled or not!”
Some sex care facts in the Netherlands.
- 1.7 million Dutch people have a moderate or severe disability. Flekszorg currently serves about 1,500 of them. According to Flekszorg, these clients are of all ages and the oldest client is 104 years old.
- In the Netherlands, sex care does not only consist of having sex with a client: sometimes clients want to learn how to masturbate, or just need attention and someone to show genuine interest in them.
- In the Netherlands, sex care workers aren’t regarded as prostitutes. They are seen as professionals who care for the disabled. According to the World Health Organisation, every human being has the right to the highest attainable level of sexual health, including access to sexological and reproductive health. It is the duty of these sex care professionals to cater to the sexual needs of the disabled members of the Dutch community.
Some sex care organisations in the Netherlands:
Handicap & Sexuality Foundation:
The aim of this foundation is to help and support people with physical disabilities who have difficulties experiencing intimacy and sex. The foundation was founded on 15 September 1997 and works together with doctors, sexologists, hospitals, social institutions and organisations in providing sex care to disabled people.
Foundation for Alternative Relationship Mediation (Stichting Alternatie Relatiebemiddeling – SAR):
This foundation was founded in 1982 in Arnhem by residents with physical disabilities. SAR is a non-profit organisation and as a result, can offer services at affordable rates to their clients. They mediate between clients and service providers throughout the Netherlands, and parts of Germany and Belgium. These clients range from the elderly to heterosexuals, gays and transgenders with disabilities.
Flekszorg is a foundation specialized in sex care for people with disabilities. They are not government-funded and are therefore a bit more expensive than the rest. Clients pay as much as 248 euros for one and a half hours. Flekszorg provides sex care to people with a disability via freelance sex care workers.
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