Rina B. Pikkel, Chaya Gershuni

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores how sexuality of intellectually disabled persons is constructed and understood in Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel. Ultra-Orthodox Jews follow strict religious principles called the “Halacha” in all aspects of life, including the intimate realm. They emphasize the importance of marriage as an institution and family life as key to being a full member of society. Sexuality is a concept that refers almost exclusively to the intimate relationship between heterosexual married spouses, and all sexual practices must be performed according to the Halacha rules and within the marriage. Nonetheless, under these restrictions, sexual relations are an essential part of marriage in the pronatalist society. We used qualitative research methodology combining field observations and in-depth interviews in order to examine the construction of sexuality and disability. In recent years, the struggle for inclusion and recognition of disabled persons’ sexuality has focused on social barriers as well as the conceptualization of sexual rights. Due to the conservative religious nature of the Ultra-Orthodox, they do not accept notions of human rights and reject the notion of sexual rights, thus demanding a different approach for understanding and promoting sexuality of disabled persons.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Disability Human Rights Hierarchies
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781000959697
ISBN (Print)9781032530833
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


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