Sex. A topic seldom discussed in African homes. Sex is a taboo in many rural homesteads unlike in town or city homes. The major reason is that sex is considered an adult talk and children are viewed as an immature audience for such a discussion.
Since the abolishment of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by the Kenyan government, communities that maintain legal tradition practices; such as circumcision, birth, and marriage rites; have done away with sex talk for women which was conducted during and after undergoing FGM. Presently, boys are taught about their sexual health within the circumcision period, hence they are fully aware and equipped with adequate knowledge of handling their sexual behavior, unlike today’s modern woman who learns from the media and internet or, unfortunately, from experience.
Sex education and traditional society
In traditional African society, sex education for girls was conducted as soon as monthly periods began, that is averagely between 10-13-year-old girls. Grandmothers and aunts were a part of the elite instructors who shared, with the puberty stricken girls, ways to conduct themselves as women, procedures of giving birth and the most important of all, how to please and take care of their future husbands.
The FGM candidates were taken through a series of tests which differed from one community to another. The tests included cooking competitions, sewing and oral exams to prove if they understood their position in the family.
Girls and boys were allowed to socialize in public events under the keen supervision of adults. In male circumcision celebrations, boys and girls were permitted to dance together and interact to mark the transition from boyhood to manhood. Dances were a frenzy of sexual movements and gestures. The teenagers were closely monitored by adults during the ceremony until midnight when the girls were escorted back to their homes by the elders. At 4am, the boys prepare for the cut by dipping themselves into a river or stream to numb their nerves with the cold water and one by one, they proceed to the traditional circumciser who waits in a hut with a knife.
For engaged or betrothed youth, some communities allowed the two to share one hut to test their discipline, chastity, and integrity. The couple was not allowed to engage in any form of sexual activity while sleeping in the hut, in different beds. A test was conducted the following day to prove if the lady was still a virgin. How they performed that test, is a discussion for another day.
Sex education was and still is an important tool in traditional societies that strives to keep marriage as sacred as it should be. A tool that only permits sex in marriage and not as a casual hobby for immature youngsters.
Modern sex education
The internet, social media, entertainment, magazines and experiments account for the teenage pregnancies and sexual activities. Girls are at a greater risk of engaging in experimental sexual practices with adults than their male counterparts since females biologically mature faster than males.
Mums and dads shy away from discussing in depth sexual matters with their daughter(s) probably because they themselves discovered their sexual health by themselves.
Due to this unfortunate turn of events, the girls do what they see on TV , social media, movies and in magazines.
Married men play a big role in early pregnancies of teenage girls. The promise of money and good life draw more girls into fornication and rape traps set by these men. Reported cases of child sexual abuse in rural areas are committed by teachers and motorbike riders. In towns and cities, teenage pregnancies are majorly as a product of sugar daddies, touts, matatu drivers and university students.
Video vixens who dress half naked in music films and in social media photos/videos, together with glorified escorts called slay queens incite this modern frenzy of casual sex in teenage girls. What they see, they do because they want that good life involving adoration and idolization by men internationally. The lives of celebrities look easy and full of money and young girls will try to achieve such statuses even if it involves sexual favors.
Exploration. The lengths curiosity will take to kill a cat. Teenagers experiment with what they want to know better. Puberty fuels curiosity and it is in turn driven by bodily cravings that accompany reproductive changes. The end result of sexual experimentation is permanent, that is, pregnancy or an abortion.
Others engage in sex in search of love. A child raised in an environment deprived of love tends to engage in activities the society perceives as love or a source of love. From one failed relationship to another, the sex is perceived as love by the unloved and the child ends up as a sex slave without knowledge.
Sex education should be re-introduced in schools as early as upper primary schools of Kenya in order to equip the girl child on sexual health and consequences of casual sex for they are more affected by the repercussions than boys. It is also important for teenage boys to undergo this program as an addition to what they are taught during circumcision.
Churches and youth organizations should take on a keen interest in sexual education for young adults to curb child sexual abuse and spread awareness on predators who take advantage of poverty to lure women into conditional unprotected sex.