Category Archives: Behaviour

#TherapistDiaries: Understanding genophobia, the fear of physical intimacy

#TherapistDiaries: Understanding genophobia, the fear of physical intimacy

2019-09-19

By Zaofishan Qureshi Published: June 23, 2019

Almost a decade ago, I heard a story about a villager that stuck with me for quite a while. I was in my sophomore year of my psychology degree back then, and my novice brain was quite struck by the story of a teenage villager who screamed at the top of her lungs every time her husband tried to touch her. She had been married for four months, but due to her reactions, no physical intimacy had been initiated.

Initially, the mother-in-law and the women of the house laughed it off, terming it as mere shyness, even though the girl’s entire body would shake and tremble for hours and it looked like she had endured a disaster. After a few attempts at physical intimacy, the husband did not use any kind of force to coerce her into the act.

Assuming the girl screamed because she didn’t like her husband, she would be questioned about why she had agreed to the marriage in the first place. She claimed that she loved her husband and enjoyed spending time with him, but not the physical intimacy. She claimed that no one had neither explained nor prepared her for this and hence she was clueless about this aspect of a marriage.

According to her:

“I thought that marriage was what I saw in the Star Plus soaps; wearing cool clothes, dining out, doing shopping and such things. My first night was the most terrorising experience of my life and I hate how nobody informed me about this.”

Our professors assessed her and concluded that there was no form of asexuality or intellectual disability present; she was simply not prepared.

Marriage holds a lot of importance in a patriarchal society like ours, more than it should. Our entire lives and career choices revolve around marriage. A lot of people, particularly women, are forced to give up their identity, life goals and dreams, just to be married by a particular age. Considering all this then, it is quite ironic how sex education is not provided to people before getting married, neither is there any demand for pre-marriage counselling in the country.

In my clinical practice, I have come across the dire consequences of lack of awareness and sex education. Fear of physical intimacy, or genophobia, is a commonly occurring phenomenon that I have observed during my practice. There are a lot of women who have this phobia in such extreme forms that it inhibits them from consummating any or most form of physical intimacy through the entirety of their marriage.

A senior of mine once narrated a genophobia case to me. Dr Niazi* was an established medical doctor who had been working in the field for a very long time. She had been married for over a decade and disclosed to my colleague the reason for her frequent absences from work and distress. She was on the verge of getting divorced and quite contrary to everyone’s belief, not having any children was not the root cause of it.

“Would you believe me if I tell you that an accomplished female doctor like me, a mature woman in her late 30s, has never been physically intimate with her husband? Because I’m so afraid?”

She further added that despite of every possible cooperation on part of her husband, she was unable to let go of this fear.

Similarly, Miss Sheikh, a girl in her mid-20s, encountered the fear even before getting married. She had three different surgical procedures done in her life for various illnesses and yet she believed that physical intimacy would be more horrific than that. In this case too, the husband was extremely supportive.

However, there are many cases in which the spouse is unable to understand the situation and marital rape becomes a norm as we are neither culturally sensitive to consent nor very aware of this phobia. There are a lot of instances when patients have a hard time coming to terms with being diagnosed with such a condition, or that such a condition even exists.

Even when the husbands are understanding and not forceful, they do fail to identify this as what it is: a form of anxiety disorder. Couples believe there is no solution for a condition such as this and the best they can do is visit a urologist and ask for tips to improve their foreplay or approach to physical intimacy. Whereas, the actual treatment is counselling.

The very reason for genophobia in our society can be seen through a cultural lens. Though it is true that the reasons for this phobia are rooted in a form of sexual abuse, particularly sexual abuse as a child, but most of the women I have come across have genophobia without an adverse life experience.

Furthermore, the practice of arranged marriages makes it more difficult since there are expectations of consummating the marriage on the wedding night. How could it not scare an already fearful, anxious woman? Genophobia is only a natural reaction in such a scenario.

The treatment of genophobia has a fair prognosis. If an adverse sexual experience is involved, it is treated as a product of trauma. In cases where no adverse experience is involved, we work with systematic desensitisation and cognitive behavior therapy as a treatment plan. Considering the cultural inconsideration surrounding sex education, the patient is also educated about their own anatomy in relation to this. Therapies such as Sensate-focus are also used with couples to improve and overcome the situation together.

Shame and shyness are so inclusive in our culture that they breed a care-avoiding attitude in our women regarding their most intimate issues. We shouldn’t be shaming women about these issues and instead encourage them to seek help.

(*Names have been changed to protect identities and doctor-patient confidentiality.)

https://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/84621/therapistdiaries-understanding-genophobia-the-fear-of-physical-intimacy/

Report shows parents’ failure in talking to children about sex

Report shows parents’ failure in talking to children about sex

2019-06-28

A new report has laid bare parents’ failure to educate their children, especially girls, on sexual reproductive health, leaving the responsibility to the internet.The report by Geopoll has also shown that youths are more worried about contracting Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) than unplanned pregnancies or being sexually abused.

The report, released on June 11, states that while majority of the youth would be interested in sexual reproductive health education, parents play a minimal role in imparting this knowledge to them.For example, 62 per cent of the youths polled said they learnt about menstruation from school, with just 12 per cent saying they were informed of the same by their parents.When asked what had been their “most important” source of information on sexual reproductive health, parents also came a distant second at 17 per cent, the same level with social media, internet, books and magazines.

TV and radio was cited as the “most important” source of information on sexual reproductive health at 42 per cent for the non-educated youths.The picture was even worse when the same question was posed on “educated youth” as parents did not appear among the listed top nine preferred sources of sexual reproductive health.

In this category, social media was cited as the most preferred way of receiving this information at 31 per cent, followed by school extracurricular workshops (23 per cent) and class setting (17 per cent).

“It became apparent that parents are one of the least used sources of information on appropriate sexual reproductive health education at only five per cent in Nairobi and Homa Bay counties, 11 per cent in Kilifi, four per cent in Narok, eight per cent in Nyeri and nine per cent in Wajir County,” the report reads in part.The study involved interviewing 1,125 youths between the ages of 18 and 24 in Nairobi, Kilifi, Homa Bay, Narok, Nyeri and Wajir Counties.A disturbing finding, as revealed by Geopoll Director of Project Management Tavian MacKinnon, is the fact that youths are more frightened by the idea of contracting STDs than unwanted pregnancies or being sexually abused.

“As one of our top concerns, we identified that 38 per cent of respondents said they would want to know more about HIV/Aids, 22 per cent would want to learn more about contraceptives and only 6 per cent wanted to learn more about sex,” said MacKinnon.Further, only 10 per cent were interested in learning about sexual rights.

These findings mirror the situation in Kilifi County, which has been in the news over cases of teenage pregnancies linked to poor knowledge on uptake of contraceptives.As a result, at least 17,000 teenage pregnancies were reported in the county last year, where five per cent of the pregnant teens also contracted HIV.Jiactivate Chairperson Grayson Marwa said Kilifi was one of the counties in which the organisation had rolled out a programme on comprehensive sex education after the survey partnered with Geopoll.

“This survey was informed by the findings from media and a report done by the United Nations Population Fund that put three counties – Kilifi, Narok and Homa Bay – with the highest number of teen pregnancy rates and as such we are rolling out an intense three-year mitigation campaign in those counties,” said Marwa.He said the organisation would similarly extend the conversation online, which has been found to be a major source of sexual reproductive health education, through a campaign dubbed WIWIK (What I Wish I Knew).

https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001331304/report-shows-parents-failure-in-talking-to-children-about-sex

Here’s how Pakistani women get judged buying contraceptives

Here’s how Pakistani women get judged buying contraceptives

2019-04-26

BY SHAHEERA ANWAR 

KARACHI: It’s no surprise that unwanted pregnancies occur all around the world. And to avoid these, people use different types of contraceptives – some of which, also prevent sexually-transmitted diseases from spreading. Birth control pills and condoms are some of the most common types of contraceptives used by both men and women worldwide. However, in a country like Pakistan – where even the use of the word ‘sex’ raises concerns – buying contraceptives can sometimes invite judgmental gazes. Likewise, a young girl based in Karachi, was also judged for buying emergency contraceptive pills (ECP) off the shelf. Sharing her experience, Kulsoom Masood, a 22-year-old university student, posted a status on Facebook.

She wrote, “I went to a medical store to buy ECP for my research and presentation on sexual health in Pakistan. I knew that there will be some reaction but little did I know that things will get so interesting. I went to the counter and asked ‘Sabz Sitara Ki ECP de dein’ (Please give me ECP by Sabz Sitara). The guy, who was smiling and staring at literally every lady in the line, changed his expressions suddenly. He looked at my university bag which also had a student ID card on it and started speaking to the guy next to him in Pashto.”

Kulsoom, being a Pashtun understood every word he said. She continued, ‘He said to the other guy, ‘This girl is asking for ECP, should I give it to her? She doesn’t look like a ‘bad girl’ from the way she is dressed.’ The other man replied, ‘Tell her that the tablets are very expensive.’ The same guy then came towards me and told me in Urdu that the tablets are very costly. I replied to him in Pashto, ‘Pa su dee?’ which meant, ‘How much do they cost?’ which is when both of their expressions changed.”

The 22-year-old then told them that her father was waiting in the car outside the pharmacy and she wouldn’t mind if they gave her the contraceptives in front of him. Kulsoom said that the men later apologised and gave her the pills right away. However, she did school them further in Pashto and added, “I told them, ‘You gave me the pills because I replied to you in Pashto, but normally, you would start taking advantage of such people who are in dire need of contraceptives. You’re going to tell them that they are expensive and if they can’t afford them despite that, you would only be creating problems for them.’ I also said that God has given them a responsibility of helping people out but by doing so, they’re only going against Him.”

Recalling the experience, Kulsoom explained that the stigmatization of sex and not being openly able to discuss topics related to it, has also sexualized medicines/drugs that has something to do with a sexual activity. She said, “The shopkeeper readily judged me for buying it and even though the Pakistani Government has made sure that people could get contraceptives without any prescription, women still go through judgmental eyes of shopkeepers and pharmacists.”

 

Reproductive coercion is abuse. But many women don’t even know it

Reproductive coercion is abuse. But many women don’t even know it

2019-01-10

Studies are revealing the shocking extent of abuse in which a woman’s reproductive choices are controlled by another.

Just when we thought we’d heard it all, along comes evidence of yet another way that men are controlling women, denying them bodily autonomy and sexually abusing them. It’s one you might not have heard of; certainly it’s been little discussed and does not appear to have been highlighted by the #MeToo movement. Arguably though, it has a far more serious and potentially life-changing impact on women’s lives than many of the abuses that movement has documented. It’s called reproductive coercion and, as a shocking new report in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Heath has found, as many as one in four women presenting at sexual health clinics is a victim of it.

Reproductive coercion is not a new phenomenon. But it was very recently recognised as a distinct type of domestic abuse, and only defined as a concept in 2010, in a study in the journal Contraception. It describes a type of abuse in which someone else controls your reproductive choices, such as deciding whether you can use contraception, choose to become pregnant, or continue with a pregnancy. This can manifest as either psychological abuse or physical violence, or both, and ranges from emotional blackmail to sabotaging contraception to, at the extreme end, deliberately bringing on an abortion by spiking a woman’s food or drink.

The new BMJ report reviews all the currently available evidence and brings it up to date, collating information from worldwide medical and social sciences research databases. It reveals that the problem is more common than previously acknowledged, and that younger women are particularly vulnerable to it, as (in the US at least) are black and ethnic minority women. And it shows that while male partners are predominantly responsible for acts of reproductive coercion, they’re not the only perpetrators. In some cultures, other family members, particularly older female relatives, frequently interfere with another woman’s reproductive autonomy.

Reproductive control covers such a wide spectrum of behaviour that many women might not realise they’ve been a victim of it, not least because some of its myriad forms present passively, or very subtly. Take your friend who confides to you that her boyfriend hates wearing condoms and sweet-talks her until she’ll let him have sex with her without, because it feels so much nicer, and she gives in because he really loves her, and she knows she can trust him … Or the woman unlucky enough to have sex with a man who covertly removes his condom midway during sex, without her consent or knowledge – an act known as “stealthing” – and which he (and perhaps she) probably doesn’t know is a form of rape, for which men have been convicted.

And then there’s the guy who lied to you about having had a vasectomy, or the one who swore on his life that he’d withdraw during unprotected sex but “got carried away in the moment”. And the bloke who said he’d break up with his girlfriend if she didn’t have an abortion, so she did, even though she wanted the baby. Conversely, there’s the man who wanted a(nother) child, when his partner did not, who pierced holes in the condoms and feigned surprise when she became pregnant.

There are still, it seems, an awful lot of men who like to keep their women “barefoot and pregnant”. Perhaps that casual, jokey attitude to reproductive control is part of the problem. Recently, Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson quipped about messing around with his (now ex) fiancee, Ariana Grande’s birth control. “Last night I switched her birth control with Tic Tacs,” he said. “I believe in us and all, but I just want to make sure that she can’t go anywhere.” Hilarious.

And last year, actor Ian Somerhalder brazenly admitted he’d decided to start a family with wife Nikki Reed by taking the birth control pack from her purseand throwing the pills in the toilet. Yes, women have been known to do this type of thing too, most famously in the case of notorious columnist, Liz Jones, who confessed to being so desperate for a baby that she had stolen her (then) husband’s sperm from his used condoms in the dead of night, and inseminated herself. But she represents a tiny minority. The reason is blindingly obvious: it’s mainly women who suffer the consequences of reproductive abuse. They’re the ones who need a prescription for the morning-after pill, who need to go through abortions, get pregnant, endure childbirth. They’re the ones who are kept in poverty by having unwanted children, who can’t get a job or improve their education.

Like all forms of sexual abuse, this isn’t about sex, it’s about power. The BMJ report calls for more international research on the non-physical elements of abusive relationships and into how coercive control can be resisted. GPs and other health workers need to be more aware of it, and women need to be able to spot the signs so they can get out, or get help. The pill might be almost 60 years old, but we still have a long way to go before we’re in total control over our own reproductive lives.

 Hilary Freeman is a journalist and author

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/09/reproductive-coercion-abuse-women-control-choices

4 Common Sex Addictions To Look Out For

4 Common Sex Addictions To Look Out For

2018-10-25

Did you know that approximately 2.4 million Australians have a sexual addiction? Sexual addiction is one of the most common addictions that both men and women experience.

What is sexual addiction? Well, it’s a condition that occurs when an individual is unable to properly control his/her sexual thoughts and behaviors. More specifically, it occurs when constant sexual thoughts affect one’s ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships, be productive at work, perform daily functions, and/or separate fantasy from reality.

It is also commonly referred to as hypersexuality, sexual dependency, and sexually-compulsive behaviors. In addition, pop culture often refers to sexual addictions as satyriasis (in males) and nymphomania (in females). A person with this type of addiction is obsessed with sex. He or she may also have an extremely high sex drive (libido).

And, although sexual addictions are similar to other addictions (i.e. substance addiction and alcoholism), they differ in one major area – people, who have sex addictions are addicted to the activity, namely sex, rather than a particular substance. So, in this sense, sexual addictions are most similar to a gambling addiction.

If you are unsure if you or your partner has a sexual addiction, you are in luck, because this article will highlight four common sexual addictions that you should look out for.

“Hookups” (Casual Sex Addiction)

One sexual addiction to look out for is a “fascination” or obsession with “hookups”; aka causal sex. The truth is, “hookups” have become extremely popular in recent years. A recent study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, found that causal sex is actually on the rise for white males in the US. Why? Well, mainly because societal views on sex have changed over the decades – with people become more lax when it comes to causal sex.

Plus, for some men, “hookups” offer a variety of benefits, such as “friends with benefits” and opportunities to “test the water” void of any commitments. More specifically, it allows these men to avoid long-term, monogamous relationships with one specific woman. However, when “hookups” or “stranger sex” become an everyday thing or the “ultimate goal,” the risk of a sexual addiction increases.

And, although having sex with a variety of people (without protection) can be detrimental to your physical health, if you are frequently having sex with random people (strangers), it can also negatively affect your emotional/psychological health and well-being. Constantly being in the “hookups” state of mind could also cause you to feel pressured to “perform,” leading to a host of sexual problems like premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and/or performance anxiety.

Porn Addiction

Sometimes watching porn on the internet or television screen can be an exciting way to ignite your libido and heighten your sexual experience. But, for some people, watching porn (on a regular basis) can lead to a full-fledge sexual addiction. In other words, watching one or two porn videos can later lead to watching porn videos or looking at pornographic pictures every day – all day long, if possible.

What happens next? Your world begins to revolve around porn. Then, you start to base your view of a healthy sexual relationship on what you see on the screen, rather than on reality. And, after a while, the only way you can become sexually excited is by watching porn before you have sex. Not only that, but in recent years, there have been a growing number of reports of men, who claim to suffer from porn-induced erectile dysfunction. If you fear you might be suffering from this condition, read the article we published on this topic.

Prostitution Addiction

The truth is some people get a “rise” out of paying for sex or trading things (i.e. drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, jewelry, etc.) for “sexual favors.” These individuals view sex as a commodity – something that can be sold and bought. Some people enjoy being “in control” of the opposite sex, while others believe they are simply paying for a service – just like you pay for any other service – i.e. getting your car washed or hiring someone to remodel your home. However, you may have a sexual addiction, when non-payable sex no longer excites you. More specifically, if the only way you can become aroused is to pay for sex, there is a strong possibility you have an addiction to prostitution.

Masturbation Addiction

Although masturbation, for the most part, is a natural and healthy addition to sexual activity, there is a-such thing as too much of a good thing. The truth is one can become addicted to masturbation – without even realizing it. How? Well, it can occur after you get a boost in feel-good hormones from masturbating (i.e. oxytocin dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and testosterone). This boost feels good – real good, so you keep masturbating to get that feeling again.

And, after a while, you do it so often and become so dependent on the “high” that before you know it… you’re addicted to masturbating. So, even though masturbation is normal, if you do it too much it can produce the same effects as a drug high. It’s important to understand that masturbation should never be used to “escape” or block out reality. A masturbation addiction can hurt your self-esteem/self-confidence, your relationship, career goals, and your sex life.

In Summary…

Nowadays, sex is no longer a forbidden topic. In fact, with the invention of technology, we now have the ability to voice our joys and pains, when it comes to sex – with people all around the world. And, although sex is a fun, exciting, and pleasurable activity that can draw two people together, it also has the ability to cause damage – real damage to one’s sex life, self-esteem/self-confidence, and romantic relationship.

However, by altering your view of sex and avoiding temptations that could lead you towards a sexual addiction, you can acquire a happy, healthy, and satisfying sex life. If you feel that you may have a sexual addiction, it is imperative that you seek help from a qualified sex therapist. With proper treatment, you can go on to have a happy addiction-free sex life.

https://www.menshealth.com.au/4-common-sex-addictions

Dear Men of #MeToo: Abuse Is Behaviour, Not a Symptom of Mental Illness

Dear Men of #MeToo: Abuse Is Behaviour, Not a Symptom of Mental Illness

2018-10-12

When abusers bring mental health issues as an excuse to their behaviours it gives birth to a misinformed and ableist narrative.

Trigger warning: Sexual harassment/abuse

The #MeToo movement has helped many women come out with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of powerful men. It has also highlighted the problems associated with mental health. Many women have spoken up about the impact of these incidents on survivors and understanding why women take time to come out in the open with their narratives. At the same time, the more catchy mentions of ‘mental health’ have been furthered by the men accused of sexual harassment and assault themselves, through their carefully-worded apologies.

Mayank Jain, a journalist at the Business Standard, comedian Utsav Chakraborty and Abhishek Upadhya, an editor at India TV, attempted to use their mental health issues as a defence after being accused of predatory behaviour by several women. Words like “struggle”, “disease”, “seeking help” and “therapy” were littered on their Twitter timelines. These words say things that these men want us to know – but do they really matter? And why talk about it now?

Putting bad mental health on the table when you’re accused of misconduct is a common gambit. After the poet Mary Karr wrote about how her former partner David Foster Wallace had abused her physically and emotionally, a lot of backlash focused on Wallace’s mental health issues. In a personal essay for the New Yorker, celebrated author Junot Diaz talked about the repression of his childhood abuse and linked it to the accusations of assaulting and harassing multiple women. The courtroom trials of Roman Polanski mentioned his ‘mental illness’ several times, following his arrest for sexually abusing children.

The similarities are clear. All these men, and many others, influenced generations with their work in literature and the media, suffered from mental health issues and abused those who seemed less powerful. However, it would be amiss to connect abuse and mental health.

First off, there are similar patterns of violence perpetrated by people with as well as without  a mental illness. “The intersection of abusers with mental health issues is very thin,” Sadaf Vidha, a Mumbai-based psychologist whose clientele includes survivors of gender-based violence, says. “Think about it while reversing the roles – when women or minorities suffer from mental health issues, do we see them automatically abusing or assaulting other people?”

Research denies a link

The association of mental illness with abusive behaviour isn’t new; the ‘insanity defence’ is probably its most famous byproduct. Researches have been exploring this relationship for decades and have found prevalence of mental illness in convicted sex offenders, but no signs of a clear cause-effect has been found.

1999 study by Jenny Muzos of the Australian Institute Of Criminology dispels the myth that violent behaviour is associated with mental illness. It found that characteristics of crimes such as homicides committed by offenders diagnosed with a mental disorder were no different from those of crimes committed by other offenders.

After a undertaking series of studies, Nancy Erickson, an attorney and consultant on domestic violence and legal issues, concluded that while mental illness may or may not exist in abusers, the abuse they inflict is a behaviour and not a symptom.

meta-analysis of several studies by Andrew Klein, a professor of law at the Indiana University, Bloomington, and funded by the US Department of Justice, for the Battered Women Justice Project states that men who abuse are no more likely to suffer from mental illnesses than the ordinary population. Their paper reads, “Although batterers may suffer from depression or low self-esteem after being arrested or restrained, these conditions have not been found to have caused the abuse.”

Jaydip Sarkar, of the Institute of Mental Health, Singapore, asserted in a 2013 review of the assessments of mental health of sex offenders in India that rape, sexual harassment and other predatory behaviours are not necessarily the result of having a mental health problem.

The issue of perpetrators using stress as a result of work and/or substance abuse as an excuse was discussed in a 1999 review by Sarah Buel, a lawyer and professor at Arizona State University. Buel spent three decades working with survivors of domestic violence and concluded that though violence cannot be caused by stress, stress could exacerbate violence.

When abusers use mental health issues as a shield, it adds to a frightening, misinformed and ableist narrative. “Men directly or indirectly saying that abusive tendencies are due to mental health issues, is just another version of ‘I couldn’t control my desire/anger’,” Vidha added. “This is a very well-known pattern. Abusers will blame health, external environments or the victims, anything that allows them not to take responsibility for their misuse of power.”

The work of Lundy Bancroft

Jain’s tweet about him seeking therapy to “reform himself” was similar to Mark Halperin’s lengthy apology for reportedly assaulting about half a dozen women during his time at ABC News, in the early 2000s. In his statement, Halperin said he sought mental health counselling after he left ABC.

Lundy Bancroft spent years studying and counselling abusive men. In his 2002 book, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Bancroft discusses the myth behind using mental health as a reason to abuse as well as to feed misguided beliefs that perhaps treatment that can ‘fix’ these men.For example, on Diaz’s reference to his childhood abuse, Bancroft writes, “… abusive men may find that accounts of childhood abuse is one of the best ways to pull heartstrings.”

Bancroft states that people have the potential to overcome emotional injuries from childhood and the impact of these injuries need not push the person to inflict same behaviour on others.

When Chakraborty mentioned his mental health, he was attempting to sneak it into his apology and lay the ground for sympathy. Bancroft pointedly dismisses this, writing “… abuse is a problem of values and not of psychology. Mental illness does not cause abusiveness anymore than alcohol does. Perceptions of life circumstances in these men are accurate, their minds work logically and they understand cause-effect.”

The same goes for Jain’s excuse and Upadhya claiming to seek professional help to address “these issues”. Bancroft continues, “I have yet to meet an abuser who has made any meaningful and lasting changes in his behaviour through therapy regardless of how much insight he may have gained.” He also writes that professional help will only help make them “happy, well-adjusted” abusers because interventions like psychotherapy can only address issues they are devised to address, and abusive behaviour isn’t one of them.

It is also important to differentiate between two types of destructive behaviour. One is where severe mental disorders like mania could cause a person to become destructive, as a result of which they may end up hurting the people around them. The other is where the destruction is intentional and isn’t motivated by the illness.

Of course, none of these means that any mental health issues these men may have are invalid or non-existent. They are likely to be as distressing for these men as they are for anyone else. However, the distress does not have anything to do with their inability to understand consent or the agency of the women.

“We are a patriarchal society and allowing mental health issues to become an excuse for abuse or assault will lead to massive misuse of policies and laws like the Mental Health Act,” Vidha said about the consequences of people buying into these connections. “We need to differentiate between what socialisation teaches men that is ‘okay to do’ and what their mental health conditions lead them to do.”

Mental health issues and predatory behaviour can coexist in a single mind but with some distance between each other. There are people who do suffer from a mental illness and are abusive towards women – and there are also people with a mental illness who do not engage in such behaviour. This is where human psychology takes a step back and calls value systems to the stage.

Prateek Sharma is a student pursuing a master’s degree in clinical psychology, a researcher and a mental health activist working to promote inclusive mental health care in India. He tweets @prateekshawarma.

https://thewire.in/health/dear-men-of-metoo-abuse-is-behaviour-not-a-symptom-of-mental-illness

 

Why Won’t Parents Talk About Helping Their Daughters Get Abortions?

Why Won’t Parents Talk About Helping Their Daughters Get Abortions?

“Your daughter’s 14, huh?” asked the guy at the wedding reception. “I guess you’re heading for the Grandma Danger Zone.” I wasn’t offended exactly (it was a party, after all, and most of us were drunk and speaking freely), but I was a bit surprised by the casualness with which a relative stranger commented on my child’s theoretical sexual activity. Trying to move the conversation along, I chuckled politely and replied, “Well, if she did get pregnant now, I would help her get an abortion, so that won’t be an issue.”

There was a long silence as this man and the other people in the conversation looked at me in shock. He’d made a lighthearted comment about my daughter’s potential teen pregnancy, and I’d responded in kind with a lighthearted comment about my daughter’s legal right to exercise her reproductive agency. Why did his comment garner laughs and knowing glances while mine elicited a full-on record scratch? Mercifully, someone changed the subject, and I was left with knowing that I, and not this man, had said something terribly wrong.

ut why? This was Massachusetts. These were liberals who would likely describe themselves as pro-choice. Yet somehow, my taking the concept of abortion from the theoretical to the concrete had shocked their sensibilities. And this wasn’t an isolated incident. I soon realized that being the parent of teenage girls meant many such conversations about the potential for their “bad decisions” ending in an unwanted pregnancy. Friends with girls the same age joked about warning their daughters to “keep their legs together” or not to get “knocked up.” Every time I pointed out that becoming pregnant needn’t result in having a baby, the universal reaction was mouths agape.

Yes, America remains fundamentally conservative on abortion, with Roe v. Wade freshly imperiled by the Kavanaugh Supreme Court. Although, in a recent Gallup poll, support for abortion rights is evenly split—about 48 percent on each side—the number of those who support abortion drops to 29 percent when people are asked if they think it should be legal under any circumstances. Part of this could be due to misinformation about things like fetal development and late-stage abortion, which can override our logical understanding of pregnancy in favor of a more emotional response. But it also has to do with our cultural values around pregnancy and a woman’s responsibility toward it. Often, it takes some other moral issue overcoming one’s fundamental distaste for the act of abortion itself (e.g., rape, incest, or a serious health risk to the mother) for the average American to accept it as a viable option. Our laws and regulations increasingly reflect an assumption that abortion is (only sometimes) a necessary evil, rather than a morally neutral health care option. Even among the progressive, pro-choice left, abortion is often talked about as a last resort—a horrible, traumatic event that must be avoided at all costs. But that’s not how I talk about abortion with my daughters.

Yes, I tell them, there are lots of good reasons to avoid an unwanted pregnancy in the first place: the potential physical dangers of unprotected sex, the potential emotional complications involved. But none of those should affect our ability to support, without judgment, a woman’s right to choose. I remind them that they are lucky to live in a state with access to safe and legal abortions and that should they find themselves in the position to need to avail themselves of those resources, I will give them the support they need.

I wish that other progressive parents were having the same conversations, but based on my experience, I suspect they’re not. And I get it. It’s one thing to believe in a theoretical person’s right to end an unwanted pregnancy; it’s entirely another to consider your own child’s behavior and its consequences. Perhaps parents are worried a child’s unwanted pregnancy might reflect poorly on their own parenting, implying that their daughter has made the kinds of “bad choices” she’d been dutifully taught to avoid. And talking about your daughter getting pregnant feels almost abstract, a cultural trope akin to joking about “getting out the shotgun” to defend her against unsavory gentleman callers. It’s not real; it’s just something parents say to indicate a general anxiety with watching one’s children grow into sexual maturity. Talking about your daughter getting an abortion, on the other hand, isn’t some common cultural shorthand or reference; it’s a specific reference to a specific procedure performed upon your specific daughter. Suddenly these abstract conversations are brought uncomfortably into the realm of the real and the possible. What would you do, the other parents are implicitly asked by my response, if your daughter had a pregnancy that she and you agreed should not be carried to term? What would you actually do? I think it’s time to stop shying away from this very real question, and its very real answer, and align our parenting with our politics.

So long as people still find it acceptable to joke about my daughters getting pregnant, I’ll continue to respond in kind by reiterating my support of their right to choose. I hope more pro-choice parents start to do the same. You’ll likely be met with a similar barrage of awkward silences and shocked looks, but I truly believe that the more comfortable we are talking about abortion without squeamishness or moral judgment, the more normalized it will become, even among those who already claim to support it. And honestly, making people at weddings or a moms’ night out a little uncomfortable is the very least we can do to help challenge cultural assumptions about women’s sexuality and reproductive rights. It’s a small but significant way we can move the needle in the cultural and political conversation around the ethics of abortion—and a huge way we can signal to our own children that we will practice what we preach when it comes to their bodies.

India’s Anti-Gay Law Is History. Next Challenge: Treat LGBTQ Patients With Respect

India’s Anti-Gay Law Is History. Next Challenge: Treat LGBTQ Patients With Respect

2018-09-18

Two years ago, Shivam Sharma rushed to a Mumbai hospital at 2:30 a.m. He’d had sex earlier that night with a man who was HIV positive. They’d used protection, but Sharma just wanted to be sure he was safe.

So he went straight to the emergency room and asked a junior doctor for a preventative dose of antiretroviral medicines, or PEP — post-exposure prophylaxis.

Hospital staff “were absolutely clueless,” Sharma, 28, recalls. No one had ever asked for a PEP before, staff told him.

“They pulled out a massive manual on how to deal with sexually-transmitted infections and insisted I take something like 25 different tests,” he says. They phoned a senior doctor at 3 a.m.

Sharma felt frustrated. He had to fight for a basic prescription.

It was just like the first time he got tested for HIV, back in college. He went to a posh health clinic, and the nurse yelled across the room, warning a colleague — and anyone else within earshot — to “be careful” of him.

The implication was that Sharma was dangerous and dirty because he had identified himself as “queer.”

For more than 150 years, homosexuality was a crime in India. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a British colonial-era law, banned sexual acts that were “against the order of nature.” There have been prosecutions under the law. But more frequently, it gave police license to harass and blackmail gay men.

Section 377 drove generations of LGBTQ Indians into the shadows. It prevented many from fully embracing their sexual and gender identities. It complicated both patients’ and doctors’ access to information on LGBTQ-specific health issues. And it got in the way of access to vital medical care.

When India’s Supreme Court ruled Sept. 6 to decriminalize homosexuality, modifying Section 377, it opened a new era for public health policy.

In its judgment, the court said the Indian constitution guarantees all Indians, including LGBTQ people, “the right to emergency medical care and the right to the maintenance and improvement of public health.”

Drugs affecting sexual health of couples

Drugs affecting sexual health of couples

2018-07-18

 

Drug addiction in Punjab has begun to impact the sexual health of young couples with infertility experts citing it as a reason for 15-20 per cent of them unable to have children.Dr Asmita Bhambri, an infertility specialist based at Mohali, who earlier worked at DMC, Ludhiana, says 20 per cent couples visiting her clinic can’t have children because the man is hooked on drugs. “Most of these patients are from Nawanshahr, Garhshankar and Moga. Further, in 10 per cent drug-related infertility cases, there is no improvement in the male sperm count despite de-addiction and medication.”Infertility expert with the Chandigarh PGI Dr Shalini Gainder says the institute has not carried out any research on the subject. “But it has been observed that sperms of addicts have no motility and poor survival chances. We discourage donor sperm in addiction cases.” Dr Suman Puri from Ludhiana too says sexual dysfunctioning in addicts is common.Jalandhar-based Dr Jasmine Dahiya, an IVF ( in-vitro fertilisation) expert, claims at least 100 infertile couples visit her clinic every month. “In at least 15 such cases, drug addiction emerges as the key factor. Dr Dahiya has been conducting a study on the “Phenomenon of decreasing sperm count in Punjabi males”. The conclusions of the study are expected in two-three months.Another Jalandhar-based IVF expert Dr Shveta Nanda says very few Punjabi women had infertility issues in the past. “But with drug addiction among Punjabi men becoming common, infertility rate has gone up for both men and women.” Former Indian Medical Association (IMA) president and gynaecologist Dr Sushma Chawla agrees with her.“It has become increasingly important to counsel the male partner prior to any infertility treatment. A couple  from Tarn Taran visited my clinic recently. I had a hard time counselling the man that he must quit drugs not only to father a child but to also keep fit to earn enough money to raise the child,” she told The Tribune.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/drugs-affecting-sexual-health-of-couples/621201.html

Harassment At Workplace: Cause And Prevention

Harassment At Workplace: Cause And Prevention

2018-05-11

Harassment is considered one of the most important issues that might negatively affect an organizational environment and the individuals as well. Harassment is the act of unwanted and annoying actions of one group or individual that may induce threats and  demands.

It includes racial prejudice, personal malice, or to grant sexual favors, forcing someone to quit a job or applying illegal pressure to collect a bill. The harasser can be a male or female. Most of the times, the harassment is targetted at the opposite gender but sometimes the victim belongs to the same gender of the harasser.

Workplace harassment is the type of sexual harassment that may be unlawful when employees are subjected to unwanted actions or comments of sexual nature, sexual stories or innuendos, discussion about employees sex lives, unwanted touching or requesting for sex or sexual material in the workplace.

Workplace harassment has now become very common because the women in the contemporary world have started working in every field of life along with men.

Though sexual harassment at the workplace has assumed serious proportions, women do not report the matter to the concerned authorities in most cases due to fear of reprisal from the harasser, losing one’s livelihood, being stigmatized, or losing professional standing and personal reputation.

Across the globe, today, sexual harassment at workplace is increasingly understood as a violation of women’s rights and a form of violence against women. Indeed, the social construct of male privileges in society continues to be used to justify violence against women in the private and public sphere. In essence, sexual harassment is a mirror reflecting the power of male over women that sustain patriarchal relations.

In a society where violence against women, both indirect and direct, is borne out of the patriarchal values, women are forced to conform to traditional gender roles. These patriarchal values and attitudes of both women and men pose the greatest challenge in resolution and prevention from sexual harassment. Workplace sexual harassment, like other forms of violence, is not harmless. It involves serious health, human, economic and social costs, which manifests themselves in the overall development indexes of a nation.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010 in Pakistan was enacted to ensure safe working spaces for women and to construct safer work environments for them.  The sense of security at the workplace will improve women’s participation in work resulting in their economic empowerment and inclusive growth. The Punjab government recently established a “women’s harassment protection cell” to protect the women of Punjab from all types of harassment.

These are the important steps to be taken to eradicate workplace harassment:

1. Develop and communicate a harassment policy endorsed by top management to all the staff members.

2. Use a fair complaint procedure to investigate charges of sexual harassment.

3. Take corrective actions against the harasser as soon as possible.

4. Provide sexual harassment education and training to organizational members, including the managers.

5. The organization must take some strong steps against the harasser and provide the security to the victim.

I hope working on these steps will help to reduce harassment at workplace.

Harassment At Workplace: Cause and Prevention