In the Netherlands

Rutgers is based in the Netherlands and has a long history there. As a knowledge centre we conduct research on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young and adults. The results we use for advocacy and to develop programmes to improve these health and rights.

History in family planning

Johannes RutgersOne of our founders, Johannes Rutgers, was a family doctor who offered counselling on family planning as early as 1892. Together with Aletta Jacobs, the first female physician in the Netherlands, Dr. Rutgers was a pioneer in the field of sexuality and contraceptives. Rutgers still believes in the power of contraception to improve people’s lives.

Sexuality education

Rutgers is a leader in comprehensive sexuality education in the Netherlands. Our materials are used in primary and secondary schools across the country. We also address the needs of young people attending special schools or in vocational education and vulnerable groups like migrants and refugees. And we work with qualified and trainee teachers. 
After years of advocacy, sex education is now part of the compulsory curriculum for primary and secondary schools and includes the obligation to talk about sexual diversity. Our programme for primary schools “Week van de Lentekriebels” has been adapted as “Spring Fever“ in the UK.

Well-informed choices

Dutch sex education emerges from an understanding that young people are curious about sexuality and that they need, want and have a right to accurate and comprehensive information about sexual health. Materials are characterized by clear, direct, age-appropriate language in attractive designs. The leading message is: If you are going to have sex, do it safely. The leading philosophy is: Young people have the right to adequate sex education so that they can make well-informed choices about sexuality and relationships. 

Respecting yourself and the other

An important part of sexuality education is our work towards equitable relationships. We learn young people to respect their own bodies and those of their partners. We developed programmes such as Make a Move, the LoveBUZZ and the game Can You Fix It, which helps youth to express, recognize and respect what they want sexually and when.

Working with offenders

In the Netherlands adolescent first offenders in sexual assault cases may be required to follow the educational programme Ken je grens focused on attitudes and skills aimed at preventing future sexual offences. Rutgers is the provider of these mandatory educational programmes.

Sexual diversity

The Netherlands has come far in the acceptance and equal justice treatment of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. The country was first to accept people of the same gender to marry. Our report “A World of Difference“ shows however there remain significant challenges in their sexual and reproductive health.

Health care providers

Until 2002 Rutgers provided direct sexual and reproductive health information and care through offices in all major cities in the Netherlands. These tasks later moved to the municipal health services. Nowadays we still support general practitioners and other first line health care professionals to talk about health issues related to sexuality via our website:

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Annually Rutgers receives support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and its participants