Aba Aziz Makaja, founder of the Love-erotic Therapy, and
Eli Coleman, Ph.D., President of the World Association of Sexology,
on the 15th World Congress of Sexology in Paris, June 2001

Interview with Eli Coleman, Ph.D.,
President of the World Association of Sexology
on the 15th World Congress of Sexology in Paris, June 2001


4. How does WAS get financiated?
WAS is financed solely by the dues from its member associations.

a.) In which states WAS has the most members?
Remember, that WAS is an organization of organizations. So while we probably have more member organizations in Latin America - we probably have the most number of representatives in the sexological organizations in North America and Europe.
c.) Where is WAS the most successful?
WAS has been most successful in hosting its 15 World Congresses which provide networking opporunties for intercultural exchange. Now, with our relationship to WHO, we are moving into the area of developing strategies to promote sexual health around the world. We also have been very successful in promoting our Declaration of Sexual Rights and have started doing more advocacy work as well.
d.) Where does WAS have the smallest number of members and the least success?
Africa. We only have 3 African societies - well we just added another in Paris. But, we also have very little impact in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Pakistan. We only have about 40 countries represented in the WAS. There were over 80 countries represented at the Paris meeting. We need to build our membership - and right now we are focusing on Africa because of the public health imperitive and needs there.
e.) Are there any states in which it is not allowed to register WAS-member-organizations? Why? Is it out of political, religious or out of other reasons?

6. Are you succeeding in establishing dialogue with leading representatives of the christian and other religions? If yes, in what measure?
We have not tried to establish this kind of dialogue. Many of our member organizations do that in their own regions. Our interest is in establishing relationships with other international health and advocacy organizations

a.) What do you personally regard as the main characteristics of sexual health in the individual?
I will quote from the Pan American Health Organization's document on Sexual Health
"Sexual health is the experience of the ongoing process of physical, psychological, and socio-cultural well being related to sexuality."
Sexual health is evidenced in the free and responsible expressions of sexual capabilities that foster harmonious personal and social wellness, enriching individual and social life. It is not merely the absence of dysfunction, disease and/or infirmity.
c.) What do you personally regard as the main characteristics of a sexually healthy society?
Again, I will quote from PAHO

Societies that prioritize and protect the sexual health of their members have the following characteristics:

1. Political commitment. The State recognizes that sexual health is a fundamental human right and takes the responsibility of promoting sexual health.
2. Explicit Policies. Social institutions, including governmental agencies, formulate, develop and implement public policies involving clear and precise directions for protecting and promoting sexual health as a fundamental human right.
3. Legislation. Laws to protect the sexual rights are necessary to promote sexual health. Specifically, legislation is necessary that protects the vulnerable from exploitation (e.g., child prostitution), recognizes the rights of all persons to integrity of the body (e.g., protection from genital mutilation), protects the rights of sexual minorities to such fundamental human rights as education, health, and employment (e.g., anti-discrimination legislation), and promotes equity across sexual dimensions (e.g., equal opportunity legislation).
4. Good Education. A necessary component of a sexually healthy society is universal access to age-appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education across the lifespan.
5. Sufficient Infrastructure. To ensure persons have access to services, an infrastructure of professionals and paraprofessionals specializing in sexual concerns and problems is necessary. This includes the provision of training programs for professionals to specialize in sexual health.
6. Research. A society committed to the sexual health of its members will support adequate and sound research to address the sexual health related clinical, educational and public health concerns. This includes both research on emerging concerns (e.g., new infections), and behavioral surveillance to monitor preventive health concerns (e.g., rates of unsafe sex in high-risk subpopulations, rates of sexual violence, prevalence of sexual dysfunctions, etc.).
7. Adequate Surveillance. Surveillance is necessary to monitor biomedical and behavioral markers of sexual health concerns and problems.
8. Culture. A culture of openness to, and prioritization of, sexual health is necessary. Such indicators as the quality of media reporting on sexual health concerns, and the degree to which public health messages regarding serious threats to sexual health can be openly promoted can measure the culture."

d.) What is your vision of an ideal society look like concerning sexual health?
Sexual health is an important as physical or mental health and they are viewed an inextricably linked. To promote the sexual health and well being of the members of society, the sexual health is as important as maintaining a good clean water supply.

8. In which ways does WAS work on the improving of sexual health?
We are working with the World Health Organization to revise the 1975 WHO document on sexual health. We have already completed a revision with one of the regions of the WHO - the Pan American Health Organization. This revision will serve as a stimulus for producing a world wide document. Then, we hope to work with different regions around the world in developing ways to implement the strategies that we come up with.

But, we also depend on each of our member organizations to do this work on a local level. Each member association is working on this.

9. To what extent does a too rigid sexual education create a fertile ground for the spreading of drug addiction, crime or other antisocial phenomenas in the youth?
I don't know what you mean exactly by"too rigid." In the United States, we have limited sexual education - also referred to as "Abstinence only" education - which simply prescribed abstinence until marriage. There have been few studies which have demonstrated its effectiveness even though the government is pouring millions of dollars into this type of education. The research is much clearer that when you provide "comprehensive sexual education" which talks about the benefits of delaying the initiation of sexual intercourse, but also provides adolescents the knowledge of how they can protect themselves and their partners from unintended preganancies and STDs and sexual violence, improve their capacity for communication that this type of educaton reduces the numbers of unintended pregnancies and STDs.

Sexual experimentation by youth is a normal part of growing up. Without helpful guidance of that experimentation, there is a higher likelihood of irresponsible sexual behavior. There is also a correlation between drug abuse and irresponsible sexual behavior. Both issues are important to address in guiding youth in their development.

10. Could you draw any parallel lines between sexual health in western civilization and the countries of transition (i.e. the countries of former Soviet Union and former Yougoslavia)?
No, I don't have enough infomration.

11. What message would you give to the youth, to their parents and to their educators in Croatia and other southslavic countries?
Speak openly about sexuality. Initiate a dialogue. Get as much information as you can. Parents need to learn how to talk to their children. Children need to find information from trusted advisors. Parents are not always the best sexual educators (although we would like them to be). There is a plethora of information on the internet. Education is power - it is the only way that we can protect our children and prepare them for their adult roles.

12. What are the chances of organizing a World Congress of Sexology for instance in the Croatian town of Dubrovnik, in the "near" future (see dubrovnik.laus.hr)?
I think there is great interest in our hosting a World Congress somewhere in Eastern Europe. However, we depend upon the hosts to have had a successful track record in organizing sexological congresses. I think the first step is to strengthen the local sexological community, for it to become an active member of the WAS before Croatia could be considered a site for a World Congress in the future.

Thank you!
Gersau, 30th June 2001