Mentally disabled sexually deprived

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 October, 2004, 12:00am

Guardians are ignorant of their feelings, says rights alliance

Most guardians believe mentally disabled people have the right to get married but none believe they should have sex, a survey has found.

While 70 per cent of the 280 respondents find it acceptable for the mentally disabled to date, only 20 per cent accept hugging between such couples.

The contradictory results have led the Rehabilitation Alliance of Hong Kong to urge the government to issue guidelines for social workers and families to help mentally disabled people cope with their sexuality.

The survey found more than 90 per cent of the 280 respondents agreed that mentally disabled people had sexual needs and 70 per cent said such needs should be satisfied in the same way as other people's.

But only 50 per cent believed this actually happened.

As many as 85 per cent of the caretakers said mentally disabled people should have the right to get married, but only 30 per cent agreed they should have children. About 72 per cent said disabled couples should use contraception.

Half the respondents said the government or non-governmental organisations had provided sex education to the patients but most said it was inadequate.

'Many people hold the misconception that mentally disabled people do not need to date or get married just because they are mentally disabled. There are also conflicts between the way caretakers think and the way they act,' the alliance's general secretary, Simon Wu Wing-kuen, said.

'Many caretakers get mentally disabled people to run around and work them to fatigue in order to kill their sexual frustrations. Sometimes they send the distressed patients to a toilet or private room to masturbate.

'But nobody knows whether such measures are right because we don't have relevant studies or policies to guide us.'

The alliance urged the government and the Family Planning Association to draft guidelines or policies on the sexual needs of the mentally disabled and their treatment.