Disabled seek sexual healing

The founder of a newly-formed group is calling for state-funded sex services for disabled people to be offered in New Zealand.

Tom McAlpine, who has cerebral palsy, thinks the sexual needs of disabled people are being overlooked.

The 24-year-old has formed a New Plymouth-based group called Paths Together which he says will help adults with disabilities to gain access to sex education.

Paths Together also promotes and wants to facilitate access to sex workers for disabled people.

He said it would be ideal for sex therapists and sex workers to be trained to teach disabled people about intimate relationships.

"You might be doing relaxation exercises, it could be talking about sex, it could be having sex with a therapist - but usually the aim is for the sex therapy to eventually stop and you go out into the general world," he said.

The Ministry of Health said that the Government had no plans to fund the idea.

But the regional co-ordinator for the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, Gina Davies, believes it should receive funding.

"There is that thinking that disabled people don't need to have sex, or want to have sex and that's just not true," she said.

Davies is a former sex worker and spent some of her career in Hamilton working with disabled people.

"It can be quite involved but it is extremely satisfying working with people with disabilities."

Davies said the services she had provided to disabled people helped them to lead more satisfying lives.

There are between 15 and 20 sex workers in New Plymouth at any one time and most were supportive of Paths Together, Davies said.

"The response is great. There are a lot of sex workers who are willing to work with the disabled. There are some who are not, and that's OK too," she said.

Those interested in Paths Together can like its Facebook page.

Taranaki Daily News