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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Gersau, 30th June 2001