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Many women watch porn thinking it’s normal sex. It’s not

Many women watch porn thinking it’s normal sex. It’s not

2020-02-24

How did you learn to have sex?

Not the biology of sex, or learning to put a condom over a banana, but how to actually do it.

Maybe you worked it out bit by bit with a partner. Maybe you talked about it with friends and got tips and tricks from them. Or maybe you watched porn.

If you’re under 35, it’s almost certain you’ve watched porn at least once, with surveys such as triple j’s annual check-in with young people finding 93 per cent of men and 58 per cent of women do.

“Adolescents are really wanting to seek out some information about: What’s normal? What should I do? How does this work?” says Sarah Ashton, associate researcher at Monash University.

The conversations around porn usage usually focus on men. But according to Dr Ashton, the founder and director of Sexual Health and Intimacy Psychological Services, young women are increasingly watching porn, either searching for it themselves online or being shown it by friends and boyfriends.

And a lot of young women are watching porn to find out information about sex that they can’t get any other way because talking about it is so taboo.

But with concerns that porn is becoming increasingly violent and debates about whether it’s addictive or not, is there a problem if women are getting off to pornography now and then?

What porn is doing for the women who watch it

Dr Ashton says for some women she’s spoken to in her research, porn was useful, helping them feel better about their own bodies and helping them explore their own sexuality more.

“It kind of normalised body diversity, it’s normalised different types of sexual acts, and sexual behaviour,” she says.

And she says some women told her they did learn about positions and got ideas of things to try in their own sex lives they might not have otherwise been exposed to.

But even when women reported they enjoyed porn, there were still worrying trends.

“When it came to pleasure, most women didn’t prioritise their own pleasure. And within the dynamics of their relationships, that was not something that wasn’t spoken about or prioritised with their partner,” Dr Ashton says.

“I think the biggest thing that stood out for me is that women didn’t know how to ask for what they wanted [with sex].”

Senior lecturer at RMIT Meagan Tyler says porn is increasingly seen as a “textbook” for sex and that’s creating problems.

“Porn’s the thing that everyone’s looking at like it’s normal, but it’s not normal, we know it’s not normal, it’s completely manufactured,” she says.

“[Porn] contains a lot of violence against women. It’s terribly racist. If you look at mainstream porn, it’s terribly misogynist.

“[Yet] pornography equals sex has become just such a cultural staple.”

Dr Ashton says in her research the women who enjoyed porn said they were put off if they thought anyone involved in the production wasn’t giving full consent.

Some said they tried to source “ethical porn“, but few were prepared to pay, preferring accessing porn for free online.

It’s not easy to verify how the porn you’re watching was made, especially if you’re not paying anyone for it. And Dr Ashton says some people “turn off” their ethics and moral thoughts when they’re engaged with porn.

“It may not be something that people are aware that the content that you’re actually consuming when you masturbate, and when you’re experiencing sexual pleasure, that’s actually pairing with a reward in your brain that will reinforce what you’re aroused to, and the sort of things that you associate with your sexuality, it actually has quite a profound impact,” she says.

Dr Tyler says while there is a lot of variation in porn, with producers catering to all sorts of kinks and subgenres, the vast majority is made with a straight male audience in mind.

This skews the content so that even when it’s ostensibly lesbian sex being shown, it’s being shown for a male viewer.

She says porn has been so normalised in our society that some people find it more embarrassing to say they don’t use it than admitting to accessing it, and the demand for “ethical” porn is part of that normalisation.

“Why is [there a] desperation for there to be an ethical porn, rather than the question of what would sexuality look like without pornography now?” she says.

“It’s not food, it’s not water, it’s not air, it’s not exercise.

“In a post-Me Too era, if we’re really talking about sharing equal sexual relations between men and women, I cannot see the pornography industry is part of that.

“You can’t say you’re pro-Me Too, and you’re pro women’s consent, and then still go and masturbate to material that fundamentally subordinates women.”

More open talk about sex could help

Both Dr Tyler and Dr Ashton believe more open conversations and better sexual education is needed so young people don’t feel they have to turn to porn to learn how to have and enjoy sex.

“We just need to equip people with knowledge and with access to information and support services, so that they can figure out how to be embracing their sexuality in a way that works with them, and having pleasurable, happy, consensual relationship,” Dr Ashton says.

Effectiveness of contraceptive counseling strategies

Effectiveness of contraceptive counseling strategies

2020-01-09

January 8, 2020

Counseling strategies for modern contraception that target women initiating a method, including structured counseling on side effects, tend to have positive effects on contraceptive continuation, according to a systematic review in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health. But in most cases, provider training and decision-making tools for method choice did not have an effect.

On the other hand, additional antenatal or postpartum counseling sessions resulted in an increased rate of postpartum contraceptive use, regardless of their timing in pregnancy or postpartum. But dedicated pre-abortion contraceptive counseling was linked to increased use only when accompanied by a broader contraceptive method provision. The review also found that male partner or couples counseling can be effective at increasing contraceptive use among non-users, or in women initiating contraceptive implants or seeking abortion.

Methods
The investigators, who were from several countries, searched six electronic databases for relevant studies of women or couples published in English since 1990: MedlineEmbaseGlobal HealthPopline, the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) Plus and Cochrane Library. A total of 61 studies from 63 publications met the inclusion criteria, for which there was substantial heterogeneity in study settings, interventions, and outcome measures. However, high-quality evidence was absent for the majority of intervention types.

Findings
In summarizing the advantages and disadvantages of different counseling intervention methods, a few studies noted the increased cost of  staffing, resources, and contraceptive products when providing additional and longer patient consultations. Conversely, interventions like digital tools during waiting times prior to consultation can potentially save provider time. However, counseling satisfaction with digital tools alone was low, and best used in conjunction with face-to-face counseling.

While telephone-based interventions provide access to many women at low cost, these interventions are unable to reach women without phones and may require multiple attempts to reach participants with phones.

Counseling up to the time of birth or abortion for women who may not access services later allows for a fuller discussion of different contraceptive methods, yet some women may be reluctant to initiate contraception immediately, thus effective follow-up mechanisms are necessary. Routine postpartum counseling at 3 to 6 weeks may help some women after they have resumed sexual activity.

Including male partners in counseling sessions may also be valuable, if they are the main contraceptive decision-maker. But partner availability poses logistical challenges.

Conclusions
“Our focus on comparing counseling strategies is critical to help identify successful interventions to improve contraceptive services,” the authors wrote. “However, preventing unmet need for contraception and unwanted pregnancies (influenced by multiple other factors) is the ultimate objective from a public health standpoint, and counseling process indicators such as client participation and knowledge are also important.”

Three limitations of the review are that study quality was variable; substantial heterogeneity existed in study settings, interventions and outcomes, thereby limiting comparability of studies; and many of the included studies failed to clearly state whether the intervention targeted women initiating, switching, and/or continuing contraception, plus women switching methods were often grouped with initiators.

Nonetheless, the findings underscore that when feasible, repeated counseling throughout pregnancy and postpartum can contribute to maximum access to information and contraceptive uptake. However, interventions seeking to improve contraceptive counseling need to be tailored to patient flow, record flow, and the contraceptive methods available, while embedded within broader quality-of-care improvements, including clinical training.

The authors noted that further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of many contraceptive counseling interventions, including novel efficacious interventions, among various settings.

What Are The Best Multi-Vitamins For Women?

What Are The Best Multi-Vitamins For Women?

2020-01-06

By Staff ReporterDec 30, 2019 10:57 AM EST

Our modern society is quite unhealthy, with fast food and processed sugars available around every corner. As a direct result of the unhealthy environment they inhabit, many American women are struggling with their long-term health, especially when it comes to ensuring they have enough vitamins and a proper diet. It can be incredibly hard to find authoritative information pertaining to women’s health, too, leading many young women to simply give up altogether.

Rather than ignoring your health, you should be taking proactive steps to bolster it, like consuming healthy supplements. Which are the best multi-vitamins for women, and how else can they remain healthy? Here’s how to ensure your lifestyle is a healthy and prosperous one.

Find authoritative sources

The first thing you should do when searching for the best multi-vitamin for women is find an authoritative source that can give you valid information which you can depend upon. Many blogs exist and will tell you what supplements to take, but the truth of the matter is that these are often hosted by non-professionals who lack formal medical degrees. You should be relying strictly on valid sources of information that have science to back up their arguments. Look for websites that end in .gov, and you’ll generally know you’re in the clear when it comes to the medical data you’re reading.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has anexcellent webpage provided by the Office on Women’s Health, for instance, and it should frequently be reviewed by women who want to maintain healthy lifestyles for themselves. Ensuring you have enough vitamin B9, for instance, is particularly important for pregnant women who may be deprived of valid information to rely on as they prepare for a new chapter in their lives.

Many women have a vitamin B-12 deficiency, too, which is a helpful reminder to talk to your medical professionals about what your body might need that it’s naturally lacking. It’s important to remember thatnutritional supplements are only one source of these vitamins – many people often get enough in their regular diets, though some dietary restrictions may impede your ability to ingest enough of them in your food. When it comes to B-12 deficiencies, for instance, you can try to amend them by increasing the amount of fat-free milk, eggs, poultry, and nutritional yeast you consume on a regular basis.

Many women find themselves suffering from calcium deficiencies, and these can’t always be amended by eating more food groups that are rich in calcium. Young girls who are still growing may be in particular need of calcium supplements because they can be very important when it comes to bone growth and hitting your appropriate height.

Learn about multi-vitamin trends

To find the best multi-vitamins and to determine which are popular and which are fading, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with multi-vitamin trends across the nation. The past few years have seen ageneral decline in the number of multi-vitamins consumed by American adults, for instance, though it’s not yet clear why people are taking fewer and fewer of them. Americans are taking more vitamin D, for instance, but overall the total amount of supplements they’re taking is going down.

It’s important to speak with your medical providers to ensure that you’re not following national trends which may be popular but nevertheless unhealthy when your specific body is considered. Women of reproductive age in particular are taking fewer supplements,according to data made available by the CDC, though this is often impacted by the age and ethnicity of the individuals in question.

Vitamins A, C, E, and D remain some of the most popular supplements with women even in light of this decline, however. Calcium is also particularly important for developing women of a younger age. Before ingesting any supplements, ensure their sourcing is authentic and that there are no regulatory embargos on the substance you’re consuming. By finding authoritative and well-regulated providers of supplements, you can bolster your health, but taking shady supplements from lackluster sources is highly inadvisable. Never be afraid to talk to your medical professional about taking certain multi-vitamins or a particular supplement you’ve encountered online.  

The biggest wins for LGBT+ rights in the 2010s – and all the battles yet to be won

The biggest wins for LGBT+ rights in the 2010s – and all the battles yet to be won

As the decade ends, we take a look back at the rights won by LGBT+ people across the UK in the 2010s, and the fights that continue on.

1. Legal protections against transphobic discrimination

At the start of the decade, on October 1, 2010, the Equality Act came into force, giving trans people explicit protection against discrimination. Under the law, “gender reassignment” is a protected characteristic, a move that James Morton  of the Scottish Transgender Alliance said has been”really effective in terms of encouraging employers and also service providers to take into account the needs of trans people.”

In 2016, Morton gave evidence for a Parliamentary inquiry on transgender equality, which indicated that protections for trans people “are not universally seen as legally complete and many trans people still face discrimination in employment and in other aspects of their lives.” It called for the act to be updated with a a broader definition of trans identities, one which uses more considerate language.

2. Same-sex couples in Northern Ireland can adopt children.

Same-sex couples in England and Wales have had the right to adopt since 2002, with LGBT+ people in Scotland given their rights in 2009. In Northern Ireland, same-sex adoption wasn’t introduced until 2013, after the ban was ruled to be unlawful.

In 2018 it was reported that just 30 same-sex couples had applied to adopt in Northern Ireland, with just two approved. This makes the success rate one in 15, compared to one in two for the rest of the UK. The Department of Health said that lower success rate may be because the adoption process can take several years to complete.

3. Equal marriage.

While same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships since 2004, giving them the most of the same rights as married mixed-sex couples, it took another 10 years for full marriage equality to be introduced – and even then, it wasn’t universal.

England and Wales were the first parts of the UK to allow men to marry men and women to marry women, with the first such unions taking place on March 29, 2014.

Scotland followed suit on New Year’s Eve that same year, while Northern Ireland will see its first same-sex weddings take place on Valentine’s Day 2020 after an intervention by the House of Commons.

4. Married trans people can legally transition without having to divorce.

Historically, married people who wanted to change their legal gender marker were forced to divorce in order to do so.

The introduction of same-sex marriage corrected this wrong, meaning that trans people are now able to legally transition while remaining in their marriage. But – and this is a big but – they must have the consent of their spouse before a gender recognition certificate can be awarded, creating an effective ‘spousal veto‘.

5. Men convicted for their sexuality were pardoned.

In 2017, MPs passed the Alan Turing law to right an historic injustice and pardon the thousands of queer men who were convicted for “buggery” and other archaic, homophobic offences.

Almost 50,000 were posthumously pardoned, while those who were living were invited to apply for a statutory pardon through the Home Office’s disregard scheme, introduced in 2012. However in September 2019, it was reported that fewer than 200 wrongful convictions had been erased – a failure rate of 71 percent.

6. LGBT-inclusive education.

The most recent win for Britain’s LGBT+ community is the legal enshrining of an LGBT-inclusive school curriculum.

In March, MPs voted overwhelmingly to introduce new relationships and sex education guidelines which mean that from September 2020, every child in the UK will learn about LGBT+ people, relationships and families

Stonewall’s director of education and youth Mo Wiltshire said that such lessons “have the potential to deliver real change in how LGBT families, people and relationships are taught about. This will help foster greater inclusion, acceptance and understanding in our classrooms, playgrounds and school corridors.”

LGBT+ rights that need to be won in the 2020s

1. Full and free access to PrEP.

Currently, PrEP is only available in England through a limited trial. In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, it can be prescribed by any NHS sexual health clinics.

Debbie Laycock, head of policy at the Terrence Higgins Trust, told PinkNews that restricted access to the drug is putting some men at increased risk of acquiring HIV.

“In parts of the country PrEP trial sites have closed to gay and bisexual men due to being oversubscribed,” she said, calling for a full roll-out of the drug.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have all committed to giving universal access to PrEP in their election manifestos. The Conservatives and the Brexit Party both failed to make any mention of the drug in theirs.

2. Reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

When the Gender Recognition Act was introduced in 2004, it was a ground-breaking, trail-blazing piece of legislation. But 15 years on, it’s no longer fit for purpose.

In 2018 the government conducted a public consultation on reforms to the act, with most sensible people recommending the introduction of self-identification and legal recognition for non-binary people, among other measures.

Yet, more than a year after the consultation closed, we’re yet to see any results or official response. Again, the Conservatives failed to mention this crucial area of the law in its manifesto, while Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens have all backed reform.

3. A ban on conversion therapy.

In July 2018, then-Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to outlaw the “abhorrent” practice of so-called gay conversion therapy. However such a ban is yet to materialise.

None of the major parties mention the practice in their manifestos, however spokespeople for the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have all confirmed that they would end the practice.

4. An end to the blood ban.

In England, Wales and Scotland, men who have sex with men can only donate blood if they have been celibate for three months. In Northern Ireland, the deferral period is still 12 months.

This effectively amounts to a ban for men who are sexually active. Stonewall says that while it is statistically true that “men who have sex with men face higher rates of blood-borne infections, it’s simply untrue to say that every gay and bi man is a high-risk donor.”

The charity is calling for a system based on individualised risk assessment, rather than the current, discriminatory policy.

5. Changes to surrogacy laws

For gay men, the route to parenthood is fraught with complications.

While same-sex couples are able to adopt, the laws around surrogacy are somewhat more complicated. Commercial surrogates – a popular option in the US – is illegal in the UK.

Altruistic surrogacy is permitted, but the birth mother remains the child’s legal parent until a court grants a paternal order, a process which can take months and leaves all parties exposed to the risk that one or the other will change their mind.

It also means that if the child is taken ill after being born, only the surrogate mother is able to make decisions. NGA Law, which has campaigned for surrogacy reform since 2007, wants the law to change so that the intended parents are the child’s legal parents from birth, along with clarifications that surrogates can be financially compensated.

Breaking silence on menstruation

Breaking silence on menstruation

2019-11-26

Ebad AhmedSpecial ReportNovember 24, 2019

It was May 2018 when two sisters in Karachi formally set up their dream project in a bid to help underprivileged women improve their menstrual health and hygiene. Enter HER Pakistan, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to shatter the myths and taboos surrounding menstruation through programmes that educate young girls, women and the society about a subject that is rarely ever talked about.

“I was working with a not-for-profit school network in Karachi and during a visit to one of the slums, I found out that girls were being forced to miss school, and at times, even drop out of school when they started menstruating,” says Sana Lokhandwala, co-founder of HER Pakistan. “And it wasn’t just that. I also came across a lot of myths and misconceptions around menstruation that prevail in our communities,” she adds. A communication specialist previously affiliated with the news industry, Sana now runs the project with her sister, Sumaira Lokhandwala.

During her eight years of experience as a healthcare marketeer, Sumaira says she realised how sexual and reproductive health, a major component of women’s overall health, was being largely neglected in Pakistan. “Subjects as normal as menstruation are considered taboo. Thousands of women do not have access to information and facilities in order to live a healthy and empowered life,” says Sumaira.

A research by Real Medicine Foundation in 2017, a non-profit organisation working to improve the health sector in disaster-hit regions, found that an alarming 79 percent of Pakistani women were not properly managing their menstrual hygiene due to lack of information. During their fieldwork, the Lokhandwala sisters made the same observation.

Their dream soon turned into reality and HER Pakistan was founded with an objective to improve sexual and reproductive health, particularly menstrual health and hygiene, for girls and women in Pakistan regardless of their socio-economic background. To date Sana and Sumaira Lokhandwala have successfully reached out to schools and communities in areas like Old Golimar, Rehri Goth, Machhar Colony, Kemari, Lyari, Gulbai, Moach Goth, Steel Town, Malir, Baldia Town and Qayyumabad.

The initiative is running as many as three projects simultaneously, starting with the School Puberty Education Programme, which prepares adolescents, their parents and teachers for puberty and associated changes and challenges.

“The programme takes a holistic approach by training parents and teachers simultaneously, so they can ensure a safe and healthy environment for adolescents after the sessions,” explain the Lokhandwala sisters. The basic components of the session include understanding gender and gender roles, introduction to puberty, physical, psychological and social changes during puberty, hygiene management, myths and misconceptions related to puberty, body positivity, bullying and harassment and a special focus on menstruation for girls. “The sessions are mostly tailored according to the needs of the students and the schools’ management.”

The initiative has reached out to as many as eight schools in Karachi and two in Gilgit Baltistan. The founders, however, believe that this is just the beginning. They aspire to take it to schools and communities all over Pakistan.

The community education programme, Menstrual Hygiene Drives, focuses on awareness sessions through peer-to-peer counselling and interactive teaching tools. The sessions are held in underprivileged communities in which women of all ages and backgrounds meet to discuss menstruation and it being a natural phenomenon, and its hygiene management.

The organisation has also launched a digital community group – Oh My Period! The Facebook group aims to provide a safe space for women to talk about everything related to menstruation, to be able to learn from one another’s experiences and to help each other.

“The aim is to create a friendly space where anyone can talk about their periods freely and ask questions without being judged,” says Sana.

The journey wasn’t a joy ride. It came with its set of challenges. But the Lokhandwala sisters say these challenges were not strong enough to unnerve them or shake their commitment. The sisters say that they faced harassment, bullying and even death and rape threats from men on digital platforms and in the real world.

“Everything related to a female body that does not serve the patriarchal needs of pleasure and procreation is considered a taboo. Everyone loves to objectify a woman’s body but no one wants to talk about menstruation or breast cancer or women’s other health-related problems,” says Sumaira.

She says the stigma exists because the society has attached shame to women’s bodies. “It’s these taboos that have conditioned the society to view menstruation as something shameful or as something to be ashamed about. It is because of this that the way we view menstruation is going to change very slowly because of our deeply ingrained cultural taboos,” she adds.

They acknowledge the role their families and friends have played in supporting the organisation and its work. “HER Pakistan is a community-driven initiative and we wouldn’t be where we are without the support we received from our generous supporters, volunteers, partners and donors.”

“Discussing and educating people – men, women, girls and boys – about menstrual hygiene and dismissing taboos associated with it, in a patriarchal society, are things that scare a lot of people. We would be lying if we say we weren’t scared,” says Sana. “We were. But we were adamant to change the menstrual health situation in Pakistan. And we can confidently say that the change is happening.”


The writer is a human rights reporter based in Karachi. He covers conflict, environment and culture.

Child marriage not good option

Child marriage not good option

By Rohiman HaroonNovember 23, 2019

WHEN I was a reporter in the mid-80s, I came across a story about a child marriage that did not see the light of day. It was apparently not newsworthy enough to be published by the newspaper (not this daily) I was working for.

It wasn’t within my understanding then that child marriage could have far-reaching effects on young girls.

A 15-year-old girl, a school dropout, was forced into marriage by her father when he could no longer support her and his other children, after his wife deserted him and the family to be with another man.

The man’s former wife suddenly appeared at the syariah court, opposing the marriage application.

A shouting match ensued between the separated couple while the girl was crying inconsolably by the side.

Her husband-to-be, a bloke twice her age, froze in fright.

The woman attacked the husband-to-be, spewing profanities at him and her ex-husband, thus drawing merciless laughter from witnesses that day.

The girl was finally given away in marriage as a second wife to the man after receiving the consent of the syariah court judge and the father, being the wali or legal guardian.

Although the incident was not published as the editors opined that the story was personal and could slander the people involved, I quietly followed up on the plight of the girl.

A year later, a divorce case was filed after the girl’s mother found out she was physically and mentally abused on a regular basis by her husband, mother-in-law and ipar-duai (sisters-in-law).

Over the years, I had come across similar disturbing stories of young brides; the parents felt it was the best option as their children had become sexually active and pregnant.

In some cases, the parents were too poor to support their children.

So they decided to marry them off to some well-endowed middle-aged men.

Attending a wedding reception, I once asked a friend if he’d give away his 18-year-old daughter in marriage.

He quickly retorted: “Hell no, she’s still a child.”

Like many parents these days who don’t see the logic of allowing their daughters into an early marriage, he said: “I want my daughter to finish her studies first, work to earn a living, find her freedom and maybe, find her own soulmate along the way. If she can’t find any, I will find one good, pious boy for her.”

He said he had seen injustices inflicted on girls due to child marriages while living among the Indian and Pakistani community in the suburbs of Manchester, the United Kingdom back in 1980s.

They were abused regularly, both physically and mentally, besides being victims of marital rape.

“They were coerced into early marriages while they were like 16 or 17 years of age although UK law allowed such marriages with parental consent,” he said.

My late mother was given away for marriage to my father when she was 13 years old during the Japanese occupation of Malaya in the 1940s.

My mother once told me she was playing marbles under her attap-roofed house in Penang when my father’s entourage came to ask for her hand in marriage.

Whilst the decision to “force” her into marriage was understandable because of the war and the grave fear among parents those days to marry off their children quickly, I just do not understand why there are still parents these days who agree to the idea of child brides.

According to the Syariah Judiciary Department, from 2013 to June last year, there were 5,823 Muslim child marriages registered in Malaysia, with Sarawak having the highest number at 974, followed by Sabah with 877, and Kelantan with 848.

Child marriages, if they are highlighted in the press, always ignite public interest. And as far as we can see now, there is strong public opposition to child, early and forced marriages.

In July last year, it was reported that a 41-year-old man from Gua Musang married an 11-year-old girl in Thailand.

This was followed by a 44-year-old man marrying a 15-year-old girl in Tumpat in September when he received the consent of the girl’s parents and a syariah court judge.

This prompted the prime minister to issue an order to all state governments on Oct 20 to raise the legal marriageable age to 18 for both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Up to now, only Selangor has amended its enactment on family Islamic law while the Federal Territories are in the process
of amending the marriageable age.

Penang, Sabah, Johor, Melaka and Perak have in principle agreed to amend their respective enactments while Sarawak, Pahang, Terengganu, Perlis, Negri Sembilan, Kedah and Kelantan have not agreed to do so. I’m curious to know why the laws in these states cannot be made uniform with others.

In a study carried out by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia last year, researchers pointed out that children who marry tend to have a poor understanding of sexual and reproductive health issues, besides the lack of an effective intervention support system for the parents, “which leaves many of them believing that marriage is the best solution when their children become sexually active or become pregnant”.

The sad thing about us, as the research suggests, is that community norms accept child marriage as an option. When can we start thinking that it is not a good and effective option? Period.

Let’s give some space to our children — let them enjoy their childhood, let them pursue an education to reap valuable knowledge, let them learn life experience as good as it gets. Let them decide when they want to have a soulmate. Isn’t that so difficult to grasp?

C’est la vie.

The writer is a former NST journalist, now a film scriptwriter whose penchant is finding new food haunts in the country

10 Benefits Of Having More Sex

10 Benefits Of Having More Sex

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to enhance your sexual health and sex drive.

November 24, 2019 by Kathy Mitchell Leave a Comment

Please Note: This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person.

When we’re young, we feel like we would want to have sex forever. The sexual arousal is too strong in an adolescent period, but it’s not like that forever. In fact, people have a lesser desire to have sexual intercourse with their partner as they age.

According to this study, the level of testosterone in the body starts to decline with age. This study shows that 6 out of 10 couples are not happy with their relationship, and one of the major reasons for relationship dissatisfaction is sexual dissatisfaction.

When there is low sex drive among people, they do not want to have more sex with their partner. However, the good news is that there are plenty of ways to enhance your sexual health and sex drive.

Are couples who have more sex happier?

Having a satisfying sex life is one of the most important factors that determine marriage success. A sexless marriage can hamper a marriage.

According to this study, some of the happiest couples have sex at least once a week. However, excessive sex, more than once a week did not have much impact on happiness, according to the results of the study.

We can say that sexual frequency is important, but excessive sex is not what determines the happiness of the couples. There are more things other than sex that determines the success of the marriage.

How to achieve more sex power?

Before jumping to the benefits of having more sex, it’s important to know something about the ways to achieve more sex power.

It’s because without enough power and stamina, it’s impossible to have more sex.
Here are some of the ways to achieve more sex power.

1. Modify your diet

There are foods that are not good for sexual health and there are many foods that can boost sexual health. The foods with zinc, important vitamins and minerals can enhance the sex drive, fertility, and stamina.

Add dates, pumpkin seeds, oysters, eggs, and other foods that are capable of enhancing the sex drive and stamina. Omega-3 fatty acid found in oily fishes can also help to trigger sex desire.

2. Stay active

Staying passive won’t help in preserving energy. Be involved in regular workouts, and do not miss our cardiovascular workouts, as it helps in enhancing heart health. You will experience a tremendous boost after some time if you stay involved in regular workouts.

3. Reduce stress

Stress can impact many aspects of human health, which includes sexual health too. It can decrease the sex drive; create a problem in erection, and more.

Reducing stress helps in building a better relationship with your partner, which is key to have a better sex life. Moreover, less stress means more energy and stamina to enjoy sex.

This study shows that mental stress can take away physical endurance.

What are some of the amazing benefits of having more sex?

The people who do not have adequate sex are missing out on plenty of amazing benefits of having frequent sex. By saying more sex, I’m not talking about excessive sex, though. Let’s take a look at the benefits of having more sex.

1. Enhance brain function

There is a direct link to the brain with human emotions. The sexual desire of a person is an accumulation of various neural mechanisms, and each of them is controlled by different components of the brain. They are active at different times during sexual intercourse.

There was a study conducted by a group of researchers at the University of Pavia, Italy to find out the impact of frequent sex in the brain. The result obtained from the study showed that the people who are involved in frequent sex demonstrated an increment in cranial nerve growth.

2. Reduce stress

Are you struggling to manage your stress? The solution to your stress may be more sex. Blood pressure rises when a person is involved in sexual intercourse, but it can lower blood pressure and stress reduction in the long run.

3. Enhances the immune system

Prevention is better than cure. In order to prevent the body from various diseases, the immune system needs to be fit and strong. Having more sex may help in enhancing the immune system of a person, which will help the person in staying away from various diseases.

It’s not like a person with a stronger immune system never gets sick, but the risk of suffering from diseases significantly decrease among people with a stronger immune system.

4. Improves cardiovascular health

Cardiovascular health issue is one of the most serious health issues in the United States. According to the statistics, every 1 out of 4 deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease. The couples who maintain higher sexual frequency reduce the risk of suffering from various heart diseases.

5. Promote adequate sleep

Adequate sleep is crucial for both mind and body. Sadly, there are many people who are struggling with sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can lead to many unwanted health problems. Couples who have frequent sex may be more likely to have healthy sleep. The chemical called, oxytocin is released during orgasm, which helps in promoting good night sleep.

6. Fights aging

For the people who are frustrated with many signs of aging, there is good news for every one of you. This study shows that having sex at least once a week can help in reducing the rate of aging among the people. It has various positive impacts on different parts of the body, which helps in fighting various symptoms of aging.

7. Pain relief

The pleasure from sex may help in driving out pain. Having more sex may be an answer for getting relief from back pain, migraine, and pain from arthritis. The hormone released during sexual intercourse, oxytocin, increase endorphins, which helps in reducing the pain.

8. Reduce the risk of cancer

The risk of prostate cancer may be reduced among men who are involved in frequent ejaculation. It’s recommended to ejaculate at least 21 times in a month to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

9. Improves the relationship among partners

The sex hormone oxytocin is also known as a love hormone. The release of this hormone helps in enhancing love and trust among the couple. So, it’s very natural that the more sex a couple has with each other, the better their relationship.

Conclusion

Now that you know about the numerous benefits of having more sex, the question is: Will you aim for higher sexual frequency? Search for the ways to improve your sex drive and do everything you can to spice up your sex life.

The study shows that the lack of frequency is one of the major causes of divorce. Have more sex; have more pleasure, and extract all the benefits of having more sex. If you’re facing serious sexual problems, then it’s better to consult with a doctor to get some valuable solutions to your problem

Stepping up in the Pacific at the expense of Pakistani women and girls

Stepping up in the Pacific at the expense of Pakistani women and girls

Young girl doing her school-work in Karachi.

Cutting aid has a cost – and Australia should be embarrassed
to take aid from other countries to give it to the Pacific.

Since coming into office in 2013, the Coalition has cut aid by 17% in nominal terms and 27% adjusting for inflation. More cuts are in the pipeline, and by 2021 aid will have been subject to a real cut of 31%.

Given that the Coalition’s justification for cutting aid was the budget deficit, you might have thought that now Australia is heading for a surplus, there might be room for increasing aid. But no – in a recent interview with the podcast Good Will Hunters, International Development Minister Alex Hawke said that the last election had been a referendum on overseas aid, that the voters had rejected Labor’s proposed aid increase, and that no aid increases were in the offing. “We’re not revisiting that envelope,” Hawke said.

The suggestion that any election is a referendum on aid is laughable. Find me a person who bases their vote on foreign aid policy. As far as I know, not a single question to either major political leader during the election campaign concerned aid.

But clearly, foreign aid is the lowest priority for the Coalition. It has been singled out. Aid has been cut by 27% since 2013, but total expenditure has increased by 18% over the same period. Answers by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to the most recent Senate Estimates hearings confirmed that next year Australia’s aid-to-gross national income (GNI) ratio will fall to 0.2%, the lowest ever. Among 36 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, only the much bigger United States and a few much poorer (e.g. Poland) and/or newer (e.g. South Korea) and/or crisis-ridden countries (e.g. Spain and Greece) provide 0.2% or less of GNI in foreign aid.

Because of the cuts, the Coalition has been on the defensive on aid, but that tactic is now changing. In the same podcast, Hawke noted that Australia’s aid to the Pacific was “at the highest level ever”. Likewise, at Senate Estimates last month, Foreign Minister Marise Payne stressed that the $1.4 billion Australia will be providing the Pacific this year is a “record contribution”. Hawke went further – perhaps letting the cat out of the bag, or simply saying what everyone already knows, which is that the proportion of aid to the Pacific is going to continue to “tick up”.

Under what scenario can it make sense to cut total aid, yet increase aid to the Pacific? The government has not yet been able to develop a supportive narrative. Strategic competition with China appears to be the underlying driver, but no one wants to admit it. The best that Hawke could come up with were references to the Pacific as “our backyard” and “our family”.

Given the government’s position, the opportunity cost of more aid to the Pacific is less aid to other countries. Bilateral aid to Africa has already been virtually wiped out, and aid to Asia almost halved.

I personally work a lot on Papua New Guinea and count myself as a friend of the Pacific. But the current practice of taking aid from other countries and giving it to the Pacific makes no sense.

The case of Pakistan is instructive. Australian bilateral aid to Pakistan has already been cut by half, and will be eliminated altogether next year. DFAT has no qualms in documenting that “funding in Australia’s overall aid program [to Pakistan] has been redirected to support new initiatives in our immediate Pacific region”.

What will be sacrificed by abolishing aid to Pakistan? The latest DFAT review of Australian aid noted the strong focus on gender equity of our aid to that country. Specifically, the review noted that in the last year, as a result of Australian aid, 1.7 million Pakistanis received conditional cash and food assistance (55% women and girls). In addition, nutrition supplements were provided to “117,140 women, 14,165 adolescent girls, and 212,510 children under five,” as well as “14 newly renovated, 24-hour health facilities provided reproductive health services to 12,253 women”.

Australian aid also supported 2 million more Pakistani girls going to school. All this (and much more) with only $50 million of aid – just 4% of the amount going to the Pacific.

Of course, the Pakistani government could and should do a much better job of supporting the country’s development, yet the same point could be made just as strongly of the governments of the Pacific. I challenge anyone to find benefits of a similar magnitude to those claimed in Pakistan from our much larger aid program to the Pacific. Indeed, I challenge anyone to argue that the benefits of more aid to the Pacific (already the most aid-dependent region in the world) outweigh the cost of withdrawing our support to Pakistani women and children.

One can debate whether more aid to the Pacific is warranted, but more aid to the Pacific at the expense of aid to countries such as Pakistan is a national embarrassment.


If you were a girl: Men, this is what you need to understand about women and violence

If you were a girl: Men, this is what you need to understand about women and violence

COMMENT

The body swap is an old Hollywood trope: Boy meets girl, boy swaps bodies with girl, boy has epiphany about love, life and patriarchy. Too bad that in 2019, this kind of empathy is still just the stuff of movies


The brutal rape and murder of 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana by Luyanda Botha, a post office clerk, in August this year left us all shaken, battling to make sense of our excruciatingly violent world.

Mrwetyana went to collect a parcel from her local post office on Saturday morning and never made it out alive. The sheer banality of the circumstances sent shockwaves through social media.

She was wearing brown corduroy pants and a white t-shirt.
She was not drunk. She was not walking home late at night. She hadn’t been at a shebeen or a club. There was nothing about the circumstances that could be used to “victim shame” her.

Nevertheless, on social media, many commentators suggested what women could do to “avoid” being raped, for instance — taking self-defence classes, carrying pepper spray, sending live locations to friends when they leave a venue.

A tweet, posted on the official Government of South Africa account, read: “Violence and abuse against women have no place in our society. Govt is calling on women to speak out, and not allow themselves to become victims by keeping quiet. Women who speak out are able to act, effect change and help others.”

It received widespread backlash on social media. Black Twitter acted fast to offer a correction to the tweet, much like a schoolteacher would take a red pen to a student’s exam paper.

This was the correction: “Violence and abuse by men have no place in our society. Govt is calling on men to speak out, and not allow themselves to create victims. Men who speak out are able to act, effect change and help others.”

The post went viral.

Some years back there was a film called “What Women Want”, a romantic comedy which body swapped the male character and his female love interest so he could understand what she wanted from him as a lover and a partner.

While this would be great, it will sadly remain in the land of Hollywood.

However, if men listened closely to the outpouring of women’s grief, fear and frustration after yet another act of violence, they would hear not only what we want, but also what we urgently need.

Women do not have the power to stop rape. We cannot simply break our silence or act in certain ways to effect change.

What we need is for men to speak out boldly in public and private spaces.

We need all men, from all walks of life, to call out their male friends, family and colleagues whenever they say or do anything that condones or excuses rape.

When men do speak out against rape, they should counter the narrative that they are doing so because women are their mothers, wives, sisters or friends.

We want men to speak out because they believe women are people who have a value in society equal to that of themselves.

Fathers must teach their sons what enthusiastic and continuous consent means and that it is non-negotiable in all their interactions with the girls and women in their lives.

Today, begins the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which runs from 25 November, also known as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women until International Human Rights Day on 10 December. This year, the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTe campaign against gender-based violence has run the theme: “Generation equality: stand against rape!”

But we need 365 days of sustained action in order to eliminate gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence is directed at an individual based on his or her biological sex or gender identity. It includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial and psychological violence or abuse, in public or private life.

Rape is rooted in the notion that women are inferior to men and motivated by the rapist’s violent need for power and control.

Women who are raped are more likely to contract HIV, less able to exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights and more likely to be exposed to other forms of gender-based violence throughout their lifetime than those who are not.

Exact numbers of rape and sexual assaults are difficult to estimate due a culture of impunity for perpetrators, stigma towards survivors and their resulting silence.

UNAids’ latest global report shows that around 30% of women in South Africa, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania have experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner in the last 12 months, according to surveys.

There are structural changes that we need make to achieve meaningful and sustainable gender equality, access to justice and human dignity. These will take some time and we will continue to advocate for changes in laws and policies in the eastern and southern African region that will help us reach our goal.

What we can do in the next 365 days, though, is write a scene in the script of our own Hollywood romcom, where this time next year, through simple and deliberate changes, we are living in a world a less violent than it is now.

Catherine Sozi is Director of the UNAids Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa. Follow them on Twitter at @UNAIDS_ESA.

This story was produced by the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism. Subscribe to the newsletter.

Does Sexual Wellbeing Lead to Better Life And Leadership Skills? This Sextech Company Wants To Find Out

Does Sexual Wellbeing Lead to Better Life And Leadership Skills? This Sextech Company Wants To Find Out

The connection between sexual well-being and mental and physical health has been recently attracting more interest. Sexual wellness brands -many of which endure constant advertising censoring– advocate to position sexual health and wellness as part of the health conversation, to make it more accessible to all.

A rich body of research confirms that sexual satisfaction affects relationship satisfaction, which is key to earning potential. For example, in one longitudinal Harvard study, the data revealed that fulfilling relationships are the key to happiness, health and longevity. And not only that: Those with the most fulfilling relationships earned an average of $141,000 a year more at their highest earning point. 

This study, however, was focused exclusively on male subjects, and it inspired a recent study conducted by sexual wellness company Womanizer (WOW Tech) in partnership with The What Collective, a women-centered organization founded by dot com entrepreneurs Gina Pell and Amy Parker. The former co-founders of Splendora (acq. by JOYUS) recently hosted a gathering called The What Summit at the secretive and exclusive Skywalker Ranch. The survey was completed by over 200 high-earning attending women. 80% of respondents were ages 35-64 and in director, management and C-suite positions. 

The preliminary results showed some interesting insights: More than 50% of respondents perceived that having a healthy fulfilling sex and relational life would positively impact all other aspect of their lives, including their careers.

The Deficit in SexEd Addressed By Wellness Brands

When it comes to sexuality only 3% of respondents said they had learned at school or with their families. The majority cited the following sources of sex education: peers and friends (34%), magazines and books (28%), and the Internet (10%). In fact, 77% of women who received some sex education stated that it never mentioned that sex should be pleasurable and 70% say there was no discussion about consent. Additionally, 62% state that they have experienced shame around sex and sexuality.

Global expenditure on wellness products and services is on the rise, highly driven by women, and the women’s empowerment movement has added to the conversation issues such as the orgasm gap between men and women, and the right to body autonomy and pleasure of women. This context creates an opportunity for Sextech and Femtech businesses to create innovative solutions to educate and offer resources in underserved categories for people of all ages. Both industries have been estimated at $30 and $25 billion, respectively.

Stephanie Keating, Head of Marketing of WOW Tech, which comprises Womanizer and We-Vibe, said: “Womanizer partnered with The What Summit to facilitate conversations amongst women about pleasure and all that it brings our lives. For many women, experiencing self-pleasure builds confidence, comfort, and agency – yet 75% of us were not taught that sex should be pleasurable. Traditional sex education has failed us. For too many women, pleasure is associated with shame. That limits us in so many other aspects of our lives. The conversations that Womanizer and our experts are having with women free us to talk to each other about this essential part of our lives.  

Personal Fulfillment As A Source Of Confidence And Wellbeing

When asked about the impact of their personal sexual wellness in other areas of life, the majority of women believed that feeling fulfilled positively impacted how they showed up in other areas of their lives. Specifically, 51% stated that this translated into a positive impact on their professional lives. Many respondents pointed to the correlation between fulfillment and “confidence”, “lowered stress”, increased overall “happiness and motivation”, feeling “empowered” and “powerful”, and the positive correlation with overall “well-being”.

Emily Morse, Doctor of Human Sexuality, relationship therapist and author, says “Sexual wellness impacts body image, confidence, … These factors can put a strain on our mental health. If you are not connecting with your partner, it is going to affect your day to day life. Additionally, being able to ask for what you want is a skill that translates into other areas of life.”

Sexologist and relationship expert,  Dr. Jessica O’Rielly, PhD, said: “Sexual fulfillment, relationship fulfillment and life fulfillment are all positively correlated. It follows that investing in your relationships and sex life (however you define it) and fulfilling those needs leads to greater self-assurance, improved mood, increased motivation and even greater assertion skills — all of which can benefit your career.”

Educators, researchers, entrepreneurs… The business of sexual wellness is a growing one and the merger of Womanizer and We-Vibe, which is about to become the largest sexual wellness toy manufacturer, approaching $100 million in sales, wants to push forward a healthier narrative around sexuality: “ Our flagship products were created to help women achieve personal sexual fulfillment and their pleasure potential. WOW Tech’s mission is to be the premier provider of sexual health and wellness products — products that enable people all over the world to increase the satisfaction of their personal and sexual well-being,” concludes Keating.

Estrella JaramilloContributor ForbesWomenWomen’s Health Advocate and Entrepreneur.