Nour Qassim Derweesh - Authornour.email@example.com
Roisin Callaghan - Illustratorroisin.firstname.lastname@example.org
Election year is coming up, and one particular field of politics is blatantly absent.
The year 2022 means a lot of things. For some it's the year that signified the end of a pandemic, for others it signifies the start of war, but for most people reading this, it’s the year of our election. The quadrennial Swedish election. As I’m writing this, political parties have begun their persuasion of public opinion in the form of mail, videos, policies and public appearances. Every swede knows the deal, that the 11th of September is going to be a very important day. Yet, as I’m reading through these brochures and policies, I can feel something missing. Where’s the talk about sexual health? Reproductive rights? Sexual education? It feels empty. Because, to me, it’s clear as day that sex is politics.
The reason I can claim that so surely is because sex is a choice. And as we all know, humans have regulations surrounding our choices. In Sweden we have something called the SRHR, which is both a right and a policy to improve the societal conditions for increased betterment of sexual and repdorductive health, both in terms of having the freedom to choose, but also to increase the opportunities people have. The SRHR directly ties into UN’s Human Rights Act, as well as the Swedish Discrimination Act, which is why the correlation between sex and politics is so strong. The ties have formed certain conditions that need to be met for the betterment of sexual and reproductive health, some of these conditions include: people’s bodily integrity to be respected, one is free to determine and define their own sexuality and gender identity, being able to decide if or when, as well as how you want to have children and how many.
When the SRHR was established, so were baseline stipulations for efforts that needed to be done for the betterment of sexual and reproductive health. These efforts were: comprehensive teaching on sexuality-relationships-consent, modern contraceptive methods, the right to maternity and child health care, safe ways to seek an abortion and treatments for complications of unsafe abortions, the prevention and treatment of HIV and other STIs, the treatment and identification to properly deal with sexual and gender based violence, the prevention and treatment of cancer of the reproductive organs — especially cervical cancer due to its prevelance, counseling and care in case of infertility and information, counseling and care for sexual health and well being.
Sweden is often pointed out to be one of the most “liberal” and “free” countries which makes sense when you consider a global perspective through a historical lense. One known example is that the Swedish government granted women suffrage, the first election where they voted was in 1718! Their votes didn’t matter as much as the men’s votes did and true equality was established 1919, but suffrage in the 18th century was not a small thing. Sweden was also the 7th country in the world to establish the right of same-sex marriage, in 2009. Countries like Costa Rica, Chile, Switzerland only legalized same-sex marriage during 2020-2021. You get the picture, Sweden usually has an edge over other countries when it comes to more “controversial” topics, so it should come to no surprise to anyone that the SRHR is as impactful as it is. However, there has been a slow gradual change happening in the political sphere. Certain parties are questioning the foundation of which the rights that the SRHR are built upon, especially rights like abortion. There has been talk ever since the last election in 2018 of restrictions surrounding our abortion rights. While it's all talk right now, it is still terrifying to listen to. We know by looking at history that restrictions around abortions never have the intended effect. It never stops people from having them, it simply encourages us to find more dangerous and deadly ways to have them.
Reading this list might remind you of the election brochures and the policies of some parties, and even pertinent news. Sex is politics because sex is so much more than we percieve it to be. Sex is the right to choose and a freedom we have a right to take part of, it’s the prevention of sickness and the advancement of health, it’s your lifestyle choice and what you decide for your future. Sex is an integral part to who we are, and who we’re allowed to be. Choose to protect it! Because without it some of our most fundamental rights are taken away…
Sex is politics and it’s here to stay.