Thursday, March 26, 2009
Amanda Allen on Harm Reduction, Sexuality Education, and Reproductive Justice
RH Reality Check: Harm Reduction Lessons for Reproductive Justice, by Amanda Allen (former CUNY Law student, current Law Students for Reproductive Justice Fellow):
Drug policy has benefited from the harm reduction movement's innovative approach to improving personal safety. The application of a harm reduction model to reproductive justice has the potential to transform the way we view reproductive justice issues and mobilize support for issues that are traditionally marginalized within the movement. I want to consider what we can learn from the harm reduction movement in advocating for sex workers' rights and comprehensive sex education.
Harm reduction is a public health philosophy that emphasizes individual safety, regardless of lifestyle choices, over prohibition. This approach acknowledges that some individuals may continue to engage in risky behaviors and aims to address the needs created by those behaviors. The harm reduction movement spearheaded efforts to improve safety and provide services to substance abusers, such as safer injection sites for heroin addicts - the theory being that if addicts were going to use, at least providing them with clean needles would benefit the addicts themselves as well as the overall public health. Because harm reduction focuses on social and environmental aspects of risky behavior, its application to sex work is intuitive.