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Spain's disabled fight for legal sex workers

Alex Dunham · 19 Jul 2013, 10:57

Published: 19 Jul 2013 10:57 GMT+02:00

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The first time Jaume Girbau used the services of a sex worker, she burst into tears.

“She didn’t know what to do, she wasn’t prepared,” Girbau, who was born with a congenital disease that has left him in a wheelchair since childhood, told Spanish daily 20 minutos.

The traumatic event left him wondering why there was such a distinct lack of professional sex workers specializing in people with disabilities.

Girbau is now the engine behind Sex Asistent Catalunya, a group made up of sexologists, therapists, sex counsellors and people with disabilities.

“We think it would be useful for there to be qualified professionals capable of providing a service to people with physical and mental disabilities,” Girbau told 20 minutos.

“This could be in the form of hugs, caressing, sexual massages, body exploration, games or aiding sexual relationships for couples who require it.

The organization wants the Spanish government to back a motion which would make sexual assistants legal as they already are in many countries across Europe, including Germany, Switzerland, Holland and Denmark.

Some of these countries pay for the services with public funds.

Girbau told 20 minutos that France is in the midst of a debate on whether to follow suit as well.

Ben Lewin’s 2012 Hollywood film The Sessions, which tells the story of a 38-year-old man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity with a professional sex surrogate, has helped raise awareness for Sex Asistent Catalunya’s cause.

The group is already putting together the teaching material with the aim of offering those interested in professional training an official university degree.

“There’s already plenty of demand,” Girbau told 20 minutos.

Patricia Carmona, President of Aspaym - an association for people with serious spinal injuries - is also fully in favour of a law which would guarantee disabled people’s sexuality.

Story continues below…

“Unresolved sexual issues lead to behavioural problems,” she told 20 minutos.

“It should no longer be the parents or staff at the clinics who have to masturbate them. Why not have a professional do it?”

Carmona organizes debates and workshops in which participants lift the lid on two of modern society’s biggest taboos: sex and disability.

Their primary aim is to prevent those with disabilities from being treated as if they were children.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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