Sex, Contraceptives and Abortions

O, she is rich in beauty, only poor,
That when she dies with beauty dies her store.
Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?
She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste,
For beauty starved with her severity
Cuts beauty off from all posterity.

Romeo uses a metaphor of wealth and spending to suggest that Rosaline's vow of chastity is akin to hoarding her "riches" (her "beauty). By refusing to have sex and, therefore, children who might carry on her legacy, Rosaline is basically "wasting" her "beauty," which will "die" with her instead of living on in her children.

Let’s move past the law and what we traditionally consider right and wrong for this particular discussion. Let’s talk about sex, condoms, contraceptives and abortion. Let’s talk about these dirty words our sanctimonious selves won’t even utter out loud as we read this.

According to the East Africa Centre for Law and Justice, 40% of pregnancies in Kenya are unplanned. Of the 40%, 47% of them are teenagers. We have a current population of around 44 million and at the average growth rate of 2.5% that translates to roughly 1.1 million new debilitators of our already limited resources and struggling economy. Don’t get me wrong, babies are little bundles of joy, but just as to a mother, unplanned for babies minus the ancillary resources, created with wanton abandon, will be burden, a very heavy burden for our country and society.

Sex is a beautiful thing (in its own time, some would argue.) From it, poets and song-writers have drawn their inspiration for ages. Many of our traditional songs are raunchy and laced with sexual innuendo so let no one tell you that sexuality is a Western Concept. Homosexuality, beastiality and abortion are also issues that existed in Africa long before the colonial advent but we all like to pretend are the innocent by-standers who had foreign cultures and beliefs thrust upon us. For once let’s talk about our Kenyan view on sex and related matters.

People are having sex now from as early as 13 years old. Children are exposed to pornography at around the same age. Men have been infamous for their promiscuity and reckless sexual abandon (some blaming it on their biology, some on culture) but more and more women joining the ‘emancipation train’ are using their bodies to celebrate their freedom. The gay agenda has been growing and will eventually have to be addressed forthrightly. People are much more aware about condoms than they were ten years ago but don’t use them because ‘raw’ sex is much more enjoyable and the more na├»ve girls think that making their boyfriends use them is tantamount to mistrust. Ladies are now much more empowered (I really don’t like using that word because it’s often misconstrued) and buy male condoms for their boyfriends and purchase e-pills. Condoms are still seen as a man’s responsibility and so the female condom uptake has been pretty low. Men, younger and younger are taking sex enhancement pills which used to be for old men whose walking sticks were the hardest part of their physique. Emergency pills are used more than condoms. People are more afraid of pregnancy than of HIV/AIDS and other STD’S; in fact, we’ve almost forgotten that they exist. We’ve grown more open about sex but parents still rely on their children’s school teachers and Sunday school teachers to give them ‘the talk’ and hope that it will be sufficient. More sex is had outside than within marriage. Abortion has become more affordable and accessible to women. This is the reality that we live in today.

I will start by saying that sex is not love. Having sex with a man will not make him love you. Sex is not a tool that should be used as a control tool to get what you want. Sex is the satisfaction of one’s carnal desires and there’s nothing wrong with that but in this instance, with great sex comes great responsibility. If you’re sexually active, walk around with condoms on your person at all times, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you have one partner then you two can sit down and plan your long-term contraceptives plan. I use condoms and contraceptives separately because that’s how we view them- condoms as the cheap, easily available one and contraceptives as the more complex methods that we really don’t understand but one day will. There’s no sense in regular ‘raw fire’, you’ll eventually get burnt. Go for a HIV test together-going there together and waiting for the test results might be the longest test ever but later finding out that you’re positive isn’t something that you’d prefer now, is it? In that regard, I challenge the males, the head of relationships to take charge. If you really care about her, make sure you’re protected, make sure you know your status and if she’s pregnant, you’re pregnant too, and enjoy the contractions when they come. If you’re not ready to take your role as a man then don’t also take your role as a man.

Oops babies don’t exist. The more correct definition should ‘I did not put on a condom and I and I hoped and prayed against our advanced biological knowledge that my swimmers were too slow, that time, babies.’ Sex has consequences and we all know that but it shouldn’t take a baby to know that this is real. Let your friend who you look at and are sorry for/judge, be that lesson for you.

The ABC campaign was really popular, sometimes back. Abstain, Be faithful or use Condoms. It played over and over but I can’t really judge its effectiveness. At that point, I was still scarred from my primary school’s method of sex education- showing us scary videos on sexually transmitted diseases. Am I the only one who went through this? Word on the grapevine substantiated by common sense, tells us that NGO’s preaching abstinence have received declining funding and the vacuum abhorring nature, gifted NGO’s teaching about the use of contraceptives the in-flowing foreign currency.

The UNAIDS contraceptive campaign, meets me each evening when I turn on my T.V. There are also very many radio ads on the same. I support the cause behind it. All ladies should be conscious about their sexual health and the varied options that they have. Nowhere to my knowledge is ‘withdrawal’ an approved method of contraception. There are many myths about contraceptives going round and even educated people are not infallible to group thinking. The more educated people spread the most believable of fallacies. Think long and hard and you can think of that one person who’s really smart but believes in the most illogical of things. If you can’t think of one, it’s probably you.

Abortion has become something we can associate with because either you or someone you know has had one. It’s that common. Though I’m not a believer, I don’t judge those who’ve aborted because more often than not, you’ve found yourself in that situation where you and your significant other are counting the days till the crimson wave. You’ve found yourself praying to God that if you’re not pregnant, you will (insert endless list of promises you will soon forget about till the next end-month.)If not, you know that it’s only by grace that you haven’t found yourself in that situation because we have the same deep-seated physical desires and longings.  Accordingly, the first thing that I want to say is: stop judging. It isn’t helping you and it isn’t helping them.

Abortion is much cheaper and I don’t know if there is a justifiable reason for abortion but ladies cite economic hardships, rejection by her family, rejection of the child by the man and not being ready to take care of the child, as some of the reasons behind it. The main cause of abortions, in my view, is culture- the reaction that you’ll get from society as a whole, the attitude towards single mothers, the culture of shameless irresponsible men who are allowed to run away from responsibility and the lack of older, non-judgmental people that ladies can talk to when they are in a pregnancy dilemma. If we find a way to change the cultures and attitudes surrounding pregnancy outside wedlock then maybe we won’t have so many of these senseless deaths. Should the government through legislation permit abortion for broader socioeconomic and health grounds? Abortion will take place whether or not the legislation changes, anyway. There should be abortion centres where ladies can be treated for abortion related complications without judgment and with confidentiality otherwise we’ll continue having ladies with complications calling their two-cent doctors for help from the problems they created.

A concept a bit foreign to Kenya and Africans at large is Baby Hatches. They are places where mothers can leave their babies, anonymously in a safe place to be found and taken care of. This arrangement was pretty common in the Middle Ages, fizzled out and has now re-emerged with a great deal of debate surrounding it but they are here to stay. They consist of a flap in an outside wall which opens to a soft, heated or insulated bed. The beds have sensors which indicate when a baby has been brought. The babies are taken in and cared for and some countries have regulations that allow the mother to come back and reclaim her baby up to 8 weeks afterwards without legal repercussions after which the child is put up for adoption.

I believe that’s something that we can begin looking at but we certainly can’t implement at the moment-we’re too busy buying laptops from companies which didn’t even qualify for the tender process to give them to schools where there’s no food, running water, electricity, sanitation, doors and windows, books, teachers, security or even buildings (No. Where two or three are gathered to learn, is not a school) ... you get what I mean. A baby hatch in Guangzhou, China was closed in March after two months of operation after recording a record influx of babies that their facilities could not accommodate. I dread to imagine what would happen if we did that right now but when we reach a level where our economy can afford it, abortions would reduce if ladies knew that they could give the baby away and it would be taken care of. Critics argue that it would encourage abandonment but it’s been quite a while since “Just to abandon it” topped the list of why ladies got pregnant.

Dear parents, stop being timid and irresponsible. When you don’t talk to your children about these topics and rely on their schools and churches then that’s exactly what you’re doing. The church/school won’t be affected and have regret when she’s infected by HIV, be saving up for diaper bills when she looks like she’s trying to smuggle a turkey out of the store, under her top and it definitely won’t hurt them more when she deals with life-long post abortion syndrome or dies from abortion related complications! If you don’t teach them, they will learn about it from their friends, media and interactions but don’t worry, we’ll come and console you and all look at each other quietly when you say that you don’t know what happened.

We openly buy cigarettes but secretly buy condoms and e-pills. One kills us but the other protects us. We need to start having open-minded and frank discussions about sex and contraceptives. I don’t claim to have all the answers or even the right answers at that but at the least, I want you to start talking about it.


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