Dutch context

Rutgers WPF was founded in The Netherlands. This country is often noted for its positive sexual health situation. The positive, tolerant and open attitude of the Dutch towards sexuality contributes to this situation.

Positive sexual health outcomes

The Netherlands is also noted for its remarkably positive outcomes related to adolescent pregnancy, birth, abortion and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Its abortion rate for the adult female population has also long been (among) the lowest worldwide.

The Dutch generally score relatively high in international comparative research on contraceptive and condom use behaviour. The use of both the condom and the pill is markedly wide-spread among young people in the Netherlands. In line with this, and in addition to the celebrated focus on the double protection method in Dutch sex education, this protective measure has been paraphrased ‘Double Dutch’.

Open and pragmatic mind

In trying to explain these positive findings for the Netherlands, one often is reminded of the positive, tolerant, and open attitudes of the Dutch towards sexuality. The qualification ‘pragmatic’ also seems to apply. A tolerant and pragmatic attitude of the Dutch towards sexuality is to be recognised on a legal level for one, for instance in the country’s policies towards commercial sex. The Netherlands is one out of few countries who have a system of legalised prostitution.

Dutch liberal pragmatism

In addition, the Netherlands was one of the first countries to legalise same sex marriage. The population in the Netherlands invariably shows low scores on negative attitudes towards homosexuality when compared to the population in other countries. A tolerant and pragmatic attitude may also be recognised in the country’s policies in other sensitive areas such as related to drugs or to euthanasia. There is a growing international interest in this Dutch liberal pragmatism, particularly in relation to drugs and sexuality, not in the least because there is evidence that it works.