Jurgen Van Acker is 27 years old and severely handicapped. He cannot walk, talk, sit or eat, but mentally there is nothing wrong with him. With the help of his computer he can communicate. Recently he became a television celebrity in Belgium when he asked that the welfare office pay his prostitutes.
When Jurgen turned 18, his mother Frie Van Acker told him all about sex and asked whether he would like to have sex. Jurgen indicated “No.” One evening three years later, however, he wrote on his computer: “I want sex.” That same evening, Frie contacted a prostitute. Every month for the past six years prostitutes have come to the house for Jurgen. They charge 100 euros for half an hour. Jurgen finds one session a month inadequate. He wants sex at least once a week, but his mother cannot pay that much. Jurgen and his Mum are now demanding that the government subsidize the sex sessions, but the Fund for the Social Integration of the Handicapped only finances masturbation equipment, including vibrators and pumps, for the handicapped in Belgium, but not prostitutes.
The Fund cannot pay prostitutes, its chairman Gui Abrahams explains, because prostitution is illegal in Belgium. The authorities turn a blind eye to prostitution but feel that financing it would take matters too far. Moreover, in order to reimburse a service the fund needs official invoices, which prostitutes cannot provide. “Do not say that we are not trying to help,” the spokesman of the Fund stresses: “We reimburse masturbation equipment but we are not in a legal position to subsidise the use of prostitutes.”
“My son cannot masturbate, but he is entitled to have sex at least once week,” Frie Van Acker says. “Giving him a free masturbation set does not help. He cannot use it. As I am his mother I cannot assist him there. That would almost be incest.” Jurgen and his mother have gained the support of Dr. Bo Coolsaet, a well-known Belgian sexuologist. “The healthcare system provides for inflatable penis prostheses for men with erection problems. These cost up to 10,000 euros.” According to Dr. Coolsaet handicapped people are being discriminated if their sexual needs are not adressed. “In homes for the handicapped either nothing is done at all or, sometimes, nurses help patients. The Fund should call the prostitutes ‘sexual aides’ and finance them as such.”
Last month European prostitutes demonstrated in Brussels. The prostitutes, who prefer to call themselves “sex workers,” want European Union governments to legalize prostitution, end all restrictions on their profession and apply labour laws to their profession. According to the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) “Sex work is work and a profession, sex workers are workers and must be recognized as such.” If prostitution is legalized, the government can start subsidizing it, which opens new opportunities for the welfare states in its care for all our needs, from the cradle to the grave.