By Marina Maria*
In the International Conference Dis/organized – Changing bodies, rights and cultures, carried out in June, in Peru, and promoted by the International Association for the Study of the Sexuality, Culture and Society (IASSCS), Leandra Migotto Certeza – a Brazilian journalist and human rights activist – received the second place award in the Poster Presentation category with the project Kaleidoscopic Fantasies, developed in partnership with the photographer Vera Albuquerque. The project invited persons with physical, hearing, visual, intellectual or even multiple disabilities to express their beauty and sensuality to the photographer’ s lenses.
According to Leandra, their aim is to break through the dominant paradigm of beauty that pervades societies and is reinforced by the media: “Vera questions the standard of beauty institutionalized by the media and dominant morality. She also aims at democratizing pleasure, enhancing equality in sexual rights and de-stabilizing hearts and minds in what concerns pre-judgments and prejudice.” The project, which began in 2004, aims at exhibiting the photographs in public spaces, such as museums, universities and cultural centers, in Brazil and elsewhere. The publication of twin volumes is also planned. The first volume will publish the photos and the second will be dedicated to the interviews made by Leandra with the persons who have been photographed.
In the Lima IASSCS Conference, Leandra has also participated in a remarkable panel on Sexuality and Women with Disabilities, organized by Maria Esther Mogollón, who is member of the Movimiento Amplio de Mujeres Fundacional (MAM). The panel discussed and contested the sexual stigmas experienced disabled women and called for their full participation in sexual rights debates. The other participants were all peruvians: Maria Rosa Pimentel, Madezcha Cepeda Basan and Marta.
In addition to the awarded poster and the participation in the panel, Leandra has organized an exhibition of cartoons produced by Ricardo Ferraz, which portray the realities of persons living with disabilities in Brazil. Once again, the exhibition called attention to aspects of their experiences aspects that are silenced in particular sexuality. It is important to recall that data provided by the Brazilian Census Bureau (IBGE) informs that the number of persons living with disabilities amount to 24.5 million (roughly thirteen percent of the total population), whose need and aspirations are not consistently researched nor recognized by public policy agendas nor by social development programs implemented by civil society organizations.
In Leandra’s view the theme of sexuality and disability was not given enough attention by the conference. She remarked that: “Once again and unfortunately the subject was not cited by 99 percent of speakers, even when the sexuality of people living with disability cannot anymore be evaded by those who work and are committed to human rights”. Even so, she considers that the award she received for her work, the plenary panel and the cartoon exhibition must be seen as landmarks in the ongoing struggle for the rights of persons living with disabilities in the domains of love, affection and sexuality: “Their voices have been ‘heard’ through images and the testimonies presented in the conference”. It was undoubtedly a historical moment. ”
More information about the work of Leandra Migotto Certeza:
Tel.: +55 11 3453-5370
+55 11 8697-9067
* Marina Maria is a journalist from the SPW – Abia Secretariat Team
:: Posted in 12/07/2007 ::