Journal Article

IDS Bulletin 37.5

Sexuality Matters

Published on 1 October 2006

This IDS Bulletin addresses a theme that mainstream development has persistently neglected: sexuality. Over the last decade, development policymakers and practitioners have come to endorse a multi-dimensional approach to poverty, and growing attention has been placed on achieving greater freedom, wellbeing and human rights for all.

It is no longer possible to ignore discrimination, inequality and social exclusion; yet when it comes to the economic, social, political and rights implications of sex and sexuality, there is a silence. Treated as a ‘health issue’, or disregarded as a ‘luxury’, sexuality barely features in development debates, unless in negative AIDS references. Sexuality is treated as a problem which needs to be contained rather than as an integral part of human experience.

The issue shows why sexuality matters. Drawing on the inspiring ‘Realising Sexual Rights’ workshop held at IDS in 2005, the resulting innovative articles here provide diverse accounts of sexual rights conceptions, mobilisation, and new approaches to implementation. This is a first for IDS – both to host such an event and to produce an IDS Bulletin on this theme. The human side of sexuality is combined with macropolitical and analytical issues.

Contributions include research into experiences of sexuality in diverse contexts and among diverse people, with personal stories of activism and initiatives that transform the ways in which sex and sexuality are experienced. The introduction draws together threads that weave across the issue, exploring their interconnections and implications for theory, policy and practice.

Buy the printed version from the IDS Bookshop

Table of contents

Introduction: Sexuality Matters (pdf) Andrea Cornwall and Susie Jolly

Sexualities and Development: A Story in Pictures Sonia Corrêa

Exploring Linkages Between Sexuality and Rights to Tackle Poverty Henry Armas

“Race”, Culture, Power, Sex, Desire, Love: Writing in “Men who have Sex with Men” Andil Gosine

Reclaiming Travesti Histories Giuseppe Campuzano

Sexual Rights are Human Rights – But How Can We Convince the United Nations? Kate Sheill

Developing Sexual Rights: Challenges and Trends in Latin America Roger Raupp Rios

Reflections on the Language of Rights from a Queer Perspective Jaya Sharma

Sodomy in India: Sex Crime or Human Right? Sumit Baudh

The (Im)possibility of Child Sexual Rights in South African Children’s Account of HIV/AIDS Deevia Bhana

Small Powers, Little Choice: Contextualising Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Slums in Bangladesh Sabina Faiz Rashid

Sexuality and Women’s Sexual Rights in The Gambia Isatou Touray

Sex and the Rights of Man Alan Greig

Eroticism, Sensuality and “Women’s Secrets” Among the Baganda Sylvia Tamale

Enhancing Sensuality for Safer Sex Among Men in India Anupam Hazra

Putting the Sexy Back into Safer Sex: The Pleasure Project Wendy Knerr and Anne Philpott

Terms of Contact and Touching Change: Investigating Pleasure in an HIV Epidemic Jill Lewis and Gill Gordon

Promoting Sexual Rights Through Human Rights Education: Experiences at Grassroots in Turkey Liz Ercevik Amado

Man Hunt Intimacy: Man Clean Bathroom: Women, Sexual Pleasure, Gender Violence and HIV Alice Welbourn

Vagina Sisters, Crying Men, Soap Opera Stars and Sushi: The Story of the Vagina Monologues in Belgrade Jelena Djordjevic

Sex Workers’ Struggles in Bangladesh: Learning for the Women’s Movement Shireen Huq

Other Translations

Sexuality Matters (French version)

Sexuality Matters (Spanish version)

Sexuality Matters (Arabic version)

Sexuality Matters (Chinese version)

Sexuality Matters (Portuguese version)


Susie Jolly

Honorary Associate

Honorary Associate


Honorary Associate

Access this publication

Download as PDF PDF

Publication details

published by
Cornwall, A. and Jolly, S.
Andrea Cornwall and Susie Jolly
IDS Bulletin, volume 37, issue 5


About this publication

Related content