Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Saturday, 3 May 2008 15:26 UK

Sex on Ecuador's political agenda

By Daniel Schweimler
South America correspondent, BBC News

Two women prepare bunches of roses in a nursery in Ecuador
Ms Soledad Vela wants laws covering life, health and sexual education

A woman from the governing party in Ecuador has proposed that a woman's right to enjoy sexual happiness should be enshrined in the country's law.

Her suggestion has provoked a lively debate in conservative Ecuador.

Maria Soledad Vela, who is helping to rewrite the constitution, says women have traditionally been seen as mere sexual objects or child bearers.

Now, she says, women should have the right to make free, responsible and informed decisions about sex lives.

'Orgasm by law'

Ms Soledad Vela is a member of the governing party on the Constituent Assembly that is rewriting the country's constitution.

Its aim, among other things, is to ensure a better distribution of wealth and rights for indigenous communities and the poor.

Women, she believes, should not be left off that list.

But her comments have provoked a lively response - mostly, unsurprisingly, from men.

Opposition assembly member, Leonardo Viteri, accused her of trying to decree orgasm by law.

Another called the proposal "ridiculous" and said that such an intimate topic should stay intimate and not be enshrined in law.

Ms Soledad Vela responded to the criticism, saying she had never requested the right to an orgasm - merely the right to enjoy sex in a free, fair and more open society.

She explained that sex was a difficult subject to discuss in Ecuador and that what she wanted were clearer laws covering life, health and sexual education.

Country profile: Ecuador
16 Apr 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Ecuador
16 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

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