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Kenyan youth turn to internet for sex education

Readers Lounge - By Gatonye Gathura | June 9th 2019 at 03:23:09 GMT +0300

Last year youth from six countries including Kenya made 30 million visits to the sex education site - Love Matters.

Love Matters site run by the Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW Media) is active in Kenya, China, Mexico, Egypt, Nigeria, India and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mainly funded by the Netherlands government, European and US sources, Love Matters also runs an online lesbian rights advocacy from Nairobi targeting youth in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

From the campaign, Terry Gachie, Love Matters Africa moderator, also says Kenyans are softening their attitude towards LGBTs.

LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Gachie was presenting key research findings at the Women Deliver 2019 Conference which ended on Thursday in Vancouver, Canada.

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The three-day conference, held every three years, opened on Tuesday and was attended by over 8,000 delegates from more than 165 countries.

The conference is a leading global advocate that champions gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women.

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressed the conference on Tuesday acknowledging the need for the society to give women an enabling environment to exploit their skills and talents for national good.

President Kenyatta addressing the Women Deliver 2019 conference

Coinciding with the conference, Love Matters on Monday (June 3, 2019) published a study on their achievements in Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Egypt and India.

“In 2018, Love Matters’ websites hosted almost 30 million visits, with 49 million page views,” says the study published in the journal Gates Open Research.

More than 5.6 million fans followed the Love Matters Facebook pages, interacting through likes, comments and shares, says the study funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The project, the study says owes its popularity to providing youth aged 15 -30 with the content they are looking for unlike in current school-based sex education curricula.

Public health

In the current school sex education curricula, the study says, sex is approached from a public health perspective, focusing on risk of sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies and need to delay sex.

“Yet pleasure despite its centrality in sex is missing from current education curricula,” suggests the study titled: ‘Good sex matters: Pleasure as a driver of online sex education for young people.’

“Pleasure-focused content is 1.5 times more popular than sex education-focused content across all our platforms.”

Love Matters was launched in Kenya under RNW Media in 2012 responding to what it says was a clear lack of appropriate sex education and when available it only focuses on abstinence.

Their local partners include Network for Adolescents and Youth in Africa, East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative, the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya and the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders.

The findings show majority of the 3,300 young respondents to an online study in Kenya and India think LGBT persons have the same rights as anyone else.

In January, some of the groups tried to introduce pleasure-focused sex education in Kenya but were stopped by the Ministry of Education.

This was after the pro-life non-governmental organisation CitizenGo Africa had raised a red flag that about 50 primary schools across Kenya had introduced the pleasure-focused sex education curriculum. “The content of this curriculum is chilling, it teaches children on masturbation, homosexuality, abortions, contraceptives, sex as a right and transgender issues at a tender age,” said CitizenGo Africa coordinator Ann Kioko.

Officials from the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development had moved in to stop the project and collect all related teaching materials.

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