One of the most common issues that adolescents face is sexuality and reproductive health issues.
This is because adolescence is a stage of transition from childhood to adulthood. Adolescence therefore involves exploration, self-discovery, increasing cognitive, physical and emotional development.
YOUTH AND SEXUALITY IN KENYA
Sexuality issues are common among young people. In general, women and men initiate sexual intercourse before marriage, at a median age of 18.0 for women and 17.4 for men. Fifteen percent of women and 21% of men had first sex by age 15 (KDHS 2014:4). Family planning use is even higher among sexually active unmarried women, at 61%. The most popular methods among sexually active unmarried women are injectables (22%) and male condoms (21%) (KDHS 2014:5).
The COVID pandemic heightened the issues of sexuality in the country. For instance there were about 153,000 teenage pregnancies reported between January and May 2020 (AIPD 2020). Anecdotal evidence shows an increase in Gender Based Violence, including rape among boys and girls during the COVID pandemic (NCPD 2020). These statistics help us to have a realistic picture of youth and sexuality.
As a parent, your desire is to protect your child from negative influences. However, to a larger degree, your role is to give them the tools to be able to face a world that has different morals and values than you do. The reason is that young people do not live in a bubble. They are part of society and therefore popular cultural ideas and policies influence what they think about sex and sexuality, and how they behave.
A SHIFT TO MORE LIBERAL SEXUAL ETHICS IN KENYAN POLICY
There is an increasing appeal to more liberal ethics in the area of sexuality. The International Conference for Population Development gathered for their 25th anniversary in Nairobi in 2019. Convened by the Kenyan and Danish governments in conjunction with UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), they made several recommendations. These include:
- Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE)
- Safe abortion services
- Counseling services for modern contraceptives
This is what underlies part of the Reproductive Healthcare Bill 2019 that was proposed in parliament in 2020 for the fourth time. Although the bill was rejected, this shows a shifting bias towards more liberal sexual ethics which include issues of gender identity, sexual orientation, right-of-life and permissive sexual activity among young people. Whereas the above issues are sensitive and complicated, it is helpful to consider what the Word of God says concerning some of these matters.
The point of this article is to show you the state of youth and sexuality in Kenya. The next article will look at a few key definitions that are used so that you can have a “pocket dictionary” on hand as you continue in the good work of parenting.
This article is part of a series in Parenting and Youth Sexuality. See below:
Parenting Teens in a Sexual Age (Part 3): Biblical Guidelines
AIPD. Africa Institute of Policy Development. 2020.
Bible. ESV. Crossway. 2001.
Guttmacher. “Demystifying Data Toolkit” Sexual Rights. Guttmacher Institute. 2016.
KDHS. Kenya Demography and Health Survey. 2014.
MOH. Adolescent’s Package of Care in Kenya: A Health Care Provider Guide to Adolescent Care. Ministry of Health. 2014.
NCPD. “The State of Kenya Population”. National Council for Population Development. 2020.