People with learning disabilities (PWLD) are still facing stigma in Macedonia; there are few daycare institutions that tend after these people and, therefore, most of them are forced to stay at home. Thus, they become invisible to the society which creates a thriving field for creating misconceptions and prejudices about them. Among these misconceptions, is the motion about PWLD’s sexuality.
That is to say that even at the level of their families, discrimination begins to occur as parents are either overly protective and regard their children as easily susceptible to sexual abuse, and thus the discourage them from entering any kind of sexual acts, or the family regards the children as something to be ashamed of and, again, discourages them from exploring their sexuality.
Having said that, it is true that since PWLD are more vulnerable, they are estimated to be three times more likely a victim of sexual abuse. However, they are sexual beings as everyone else and they have the same rights as everyone else. In other words, if the parents are too protective and discourage their children from entering any kind of sexual act in order to protect their children from becoming a sexual victim or becoming pregnant, the people with learning disabilities become discriminated and their rights are breached.
Moreover, this misconception that sexuality for PWLD should not be an issue, since PWLD should not have sex, is furtherly reinforced with the lack of sexual education in Macedonia. Macedonia faces an issue with the lack of sexual education for students without learning disabilities, let alone for students with learning disabilities. The only sexual education students get is the little information categorized under “life skills”, together with knitting, sewing and etc. This makes sex a taboo and creates opportunities for spreading false information since there is little legitimate information easily available to the youth. In turn, this makes sex a double taboo for the PWLD since not only they are clouded with the misconception that sex should not be a part of their lives, but they are also stripped of credible knowledge about their sexual and reproductive rights and, therefore, they become more susceptible to manipulations.
Along those lines, there are several NGOs who work on solving these issues, however, there is a long path before removing the stigma and creating a pool of easily accessible and credible information about the sexual and reproductive health and rights.