Disabled man's sex-life furore

02 July 2015 - 02:16 By Aarti J Narsee

A Johannesburg father claims that his dignity has been impaired by a well-known sexologist saying that his masturbating of his disabled son was "incestuous". The man, who admitted on radio that he had been masturbating his now 29-year-old son since he was 18, said his intention was to provide for his son's "sexual health and sexual wellbeing and [give] sexual therapy".The son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at six-months-old."In addition to the daily feeding and physical physiotherapy, as well as the mental stimulation that I provide my son, I am also aware of the sexual feelings of my son, indicated to me by my son's various behavioural means, such as an erect penis when I am changing or bathing him," the father said.He is now on a mission to raise awareness about the sexual needs of disabled people and is campaigning for physiotherapists to be trained to provide sexual therapy to patients with severe disabilities.The man is to co-author an academic paper with social worker Dr Marlene de Beer on sexual health and the wellbeing of the disabled.De Beer said the "reality is that South Africa is not equipped to deal with cases like this"."It can be a very contentious issue ... [which] shows the lack of clarity, policy direction, gaps and lack of support," she said.Through their research, they hope to identify additional options available to parents and caregivers confronted with the sexual desires and sexual health of disabled teenagers.In some countries, there are professionals who provide services for people with disabilities, their research abstract states.These include The Netherlands, which has a grant scheme through which people with disabilities can receive public money to pay for sexual services up to 12 times a year. In Taiwan, an NGO called Hand Angel trains volunteers to masturbate the disabled.But Dr Shaheda Omar, of the Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children, said the father could be criminally liable under the amended Sexual Offences law because his son is unable to give consent due to his disabilities."If the father's intention is to relieve his son from pain, he needs to work closely with a multidisciplinary team on managing his son's pain and explore other possibilities," said Omar.She said the father masturbating his son was "problematic" as this amounted to "self-soothing behaviour".Lurinda Prinsloo, of the Cerebral Palsy Association in Eastern Cape, said everyone had the right to sexual freedom but that the sexual health and sexual rights of disabled people was a "grey area".But De Beer argued that where someone had been taking care of a severely disabled person for a long time, consent might be communicated using nuances difficult for outsiders to see."Although we have a constitution that promotes the rights of people with disabilities it hasn't dealt with sexual rights," De Beer said.A 58-year-old Cape Town mother, whose son suffers from multiple disabilities, said that though he had sexual urges and often masturbated, she could not perform the act for her son.The president of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Joan van Niekerk, said the frustrations of severely disabled people expressing their sexual needs were not unknown.The father of the 29-year-old disabled man laid a complaint with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission SA following the backlash after he shared his story on Radio 702. He complained about sexologist Dr Marlene Wasserman, known as Dr Eve, who commented that his actions were "incestuous".The father complained to the broadcasting watchdog that Dr Eve's comments impaired his dignity.But the complaints commission did not uphold his complaints.SHARE YOUR VIEWS: Join the debate on our Facebook page @timesliveHere are some of the opinions expressed by readers..Dimakatso Makisto MokwenaSo easy for y'all to judge this man whereas you don't even have disabled children. Just be glad you don't have a disabled child and stop your mean self-righteous judgements. Surely this father is not enjoying doing this, but he's redefining what truly caring for the handicapped is. Reserve your judgements and see this issue from his point of view.Jeff RasikhanyaIt's a very tricky & sensitive issue. Yes it's understandable that he is assisting his son. However, it would have been more appropriate if he had hired somebody to perform the act. We're not completely sure if he is indeed doing for his son's needs or he is also getting some form of pleasure. Again, erection doesn't always mean one needs sexual relief.Macduff OdomsSorry bro. To me that's taking advantage of the disabled. There are lots of ladies, or do I say people, out there who provide such services for the pay and am sure the dad can afford one.Mduduzi MakhobaIt's not like the father enjoys itMegan WheelerOnce you get past the fact that he masturbates for his son, which may not be something he wants to do, but who in the country never mind his home town would he get this service besides an illegal act. I think it takes great love and care. What medical aid offers sexual relief funding? Who do you hire? However, if he receives a sort of sexual pleasure from it, then it would be incest. Very interesting topicSolomon ShingangeEvery man must relieve himself on certain circumstances. Where is the handicap, to the hands, eyes?Ruthy Rue RamakonyaI think he should've hired someone to do it.Thembz CalvinI don't fully agree with this kind of behaviour as most people will take advantage and molest disabled children or grown ups..I believe though social workers can assist with such kind of help or a certain organisation trained for suchAmukelani Mugaza OvacadosProfessional trained medical person needs to be allowed by law to assist.Travis ParkerIf it is not consensual, it is not acceptable.Micheal MillsThis issue is an extremely sensitive one. I feel for the father and I'll never understand what he's going through. All the same, there should be other alternatives.What if he has a daughter instead of a son. Would he have been doing the same?Daniel Lionel ShneierWell he can't exactly pull his leg... On a serious note: Why? I was having a good day!Girley MabasaQuite a sensitive issue, that needs to be explored from all angles.

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