Sensoa promotes sexual health as a centre of expertise in Flanders (Belgium) and does so with an international perspective.
Sensoa works on the basis of the World Health Organisation's definition of "sexual health". Sexual health is more than just the absence of disease and preventing the risks of unplanned pregnancy, sexual abuse, STDs or HIV. Attention should also be paid to the pleasurable and positive aspects of sexuality. This then translates itself into a constructive, respectful approach towards sexuality and sexual relationships.
For Sensoa, sexual health is inextricably linked with promoting and safeguarding sexual rights. We believe that sexual rights should be respected, safeguarded and upheld so that everyone is able to experience his or her sexuality free from coercion, discrimination and violence.
Key issues for Sensoa are the promotion of comprehensive sexuality education, the prevention of STDs and HIV, the prevention of unplanned pregnancies, the prevention of sexual abuse (for instance with the Flag System) and the integration of people living with HIV.
Sensoa is a dynamic organisation that not only responds to change but also plans for and pre-empts future developments. Wherever possible, we work together to ensure the maximum involvement of our partners.
Evidence-based work is essential: our approach is based on (proven) facts and best practices.
Sensoa is not only directed towards the general public, but also towards specific vulnerable groups.
Finally, Sensoa defends sexual rights. Everyone is entitled to the fullest possible expression of their sexuality, as long as there is consent from all parties involved and no harm is inflicted on oneself or one’s partner.
Our core activities
- Sensoa develops: we research and analyse relevant social developments and trends and translate these into interventions for specific target audiences.
- Sensoa informs: we provide information and advice to the general public, to specific groups and appropriate intermediaries, mainly using digital media.
- Sensoa educates: we provide teaching, education and training to intermediaries. We aim to incorporate the issue of sexual health into existing (professional) training and into the school curriculum
- Sensoa advocates: we work hard to provide support for sexual health and to promote sexual rights. We achieve this by setting up initiatives to promote awareness, by formulating clear positions in relation to sexual health and rights, by identifying discrimination and promoting better access to sexual and reproductive health care for vulnerable groups.
- Sensoa supports: we provide support for policy development and implementation, both to governments and policy makers in relevant sectors, institutions and facilities.
Sensoa’s international perspective
Sensoa's international activities are based on its core principles: advocacy and building capacity.
In terms of advocacy, Sensoa calls for attention to be given to sexual health, HIV and AIDS in the Flemish and Belgian development cooperation policy. We strive to achieve scrupulous monitoring of international agreements on these issues and respect for the sexual and reproductive rights of every individual worldwide. Sensoa also supports the Belgian Parliamentarians for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Sensoa also works with partner organisations within and beyond the EU, with the aim of exchanging experience and strengthening their resources and impact in relation to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Sensoa is an active member of the European Network of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). As such, Sensoa was partner in the SAFE II Project (Sexual Awareness for Europe), coordinated by IPPF-EN and funded by the European Union in the Health Programme. Sensoa carried out qualitative research on the determinants that shape first sexual intercourse at a young age.
Sensoa International, the international policy section of Sensoa
Sensoa International is the international policy section of Sensoa, the Flemish centre of expertise for sexual health.
Sensoa International aims to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights, including HIV and Aids, and to influence the international decision making process in this area. T
To this end we monitor and submit policy recommendations in conjunction with Belgian and international partners.
Prevention of sexual aggression with the Flag system
The Flag System is used for the prevention of sexual aggression and in supporting healthy sexual development: making sexuality, desires, boundaries, criteria and gradations of sexual behaviour insightful and a subject of discussion, since it makes talking about sexual behaviour easier. It is a necessary tool, taking into account that in the Netherlands and in Belgium approximately one in five young people have experienced non-physical or physical sexual aggression.
Many professionals are uncertain about what is and what is not acceptable. The questions ‘How can I help children and young people to assess when sexual behaviour is ok or not?’ and 'How do I respond to (un)acceptable behaviour?’ are very relevant these days. The Flag System offers an answer to these questions.
Sexual behaviour and sexual aggression are human traits and therefore boundaries can be crossed in this respect. We understand that professionals and organizations in other European countries are dealing with the same difficulties in identifying (un)acceptable sexual behaviour and effectively streamlining the pedagogical response in an ever-changing society. The Flag System might need adjustments to fit other European settings and countries. The huge demand in both Belgium and the Netherlands makes us believe that there is a need for this tool in other countries as well.
We want to assess how the Flag System will be received in other European countries and what organisations need from Rutgers and Sensoa in order to implement this tool. Therefore, a platform will be created in the Netherlands and Belgium to inform professionals and organisations about this project and further developments.
If you are interested in implementing the Flag System in your country and/or if you wish to stay connected, please fill in this form. We will make sure you receive our updates regularly.
Talking about sexual health as a professional: One to One method
How to start a conversation about sexual health as a professional healthcare provider?
It’s not always obvious. As a result, many sexual health issues, questions and concerns might remain undiscussed. However, clients/patients do expect their healthcare provider to proactively ask questions about it.
The One to One method (O2O) can help you in 4 steps to
- Start a conversation about sexual health
- Listen attentively
- Finish the talk respectfully
- Formulate a personalised offer
The One to One method is an easy to use, hands on method. Each of the 4 steps relies on known skills and is applied on the basis of concrete examples acknowledged in medical and non-medical practice.
This step-by-step plan was developed in collaboration with Domus Medica, the Flemish Association for Sexologists and the Sensoa physicians’ steering group, also including e.g. skills teams.