A right, simply put, is something that you are entitled to without interference or permission from anyone else. Human rights are those rights that each of us have just by the virtue of being human. These are the basic minimum standards that contribute to freedom, equality and dignity of all people. For eg: The right to life, the right to work, the right to equality before law etc. A right has to be exercised with responsibility towards ourselves and others around us.
Since sexuality is such an important part of being human, sexual rights are also an important component of your basic human rights. These rights are thus an evolving set of entitlements related to your sexuality and include the right to:
- seek, receive and impart information related to sexuality;
- sexuality education;
- respect for bodily integrity;
- choosing your partner;
- decide to be sexually active or not;
- sexual relations with mutual consent;
- marriage with mutual consent;
- decide whether or not, and when, to have children;
- the highest attainable standard of sexual health, including access to sexual and reproductive health care services;
- pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life.
Sexual rights are those minimum standards that are required for a person to experience and express their sexuality in a positive manner. They can only be realised and enjoyed in an environment that is free from discrimination, coercion and violence. Choice and mutual consent are cornerstones of such an environment.
The following lines from ‘A Conversation on Sexual Rights in India’, a publication CREA, SANGMA & TARSHI truly capture the essence of sexual rights.
“…the freedom to own and express my sexuality, and the freedom to not have external impositions of how I dress, behave, identify , who I love, make friends, have sex with; where or when I do it (as long as I don’t intrude on anyone else’s space); why I have sex or sensual experiences. My body, heart, mind, sex are mine.”