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Year: 2013 Type: Book Chapter Language: English

Writing as a woman living with HIV, Alice Welbourn focuses on the forced asexuality that is often foisted on women when they are diagnosed with HIV. She argues that a focus on sexual rights and pleasure can enhance our analysis of the ways in which legal, religious and medical discourses can reinforce fear of women’s unfettered sexuality. Welbourn’s chapter offers a poignant reminder of the extent to which HIV positive women experience the pain of forced retirement from sexual pleasure. Welbourn describes how positive women’s pleasurable sexual experiences are constrained by the grief of a positive diagnosis; like trauma or rape, she argues, this can lead to forced asexuality which denies women their rights to their own autonomy with regard to their sexual and reproductive pleasure. In this chapter Welbourn shows how Western Judaeo-Christian belief systems have framed a fear of uncontrolled women’s sexuality. She goes on to illustrate how this Judaeo-Christian belief system formed the basis of Western legal and medical traditions. She then explores the consequences of these policies and practices for women with HIV around the world – most of whom are citizens of former British colonies. Finally, she explores how human rights frameworks can change policies and practices of law and medicine, to help make the good effects of these disciplines more common and their bad effects less common. Welbourn concludes that women’s rights to sexual and reproductive pleasure – if and when they want it need to be upheld by and not undermined by governmental, legal and medical frameworks globally.

Resource is available online though Zed Books.

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