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Talk openly about sex with your children

 Talk openly about sex with your children (Photo: iStock)

Sex talks are not given to the younger generation, openly and freely, so they end up experimenting to have that information. The result is a long list of negative effects that outweigh the positives.

“It is information that addresses various areas including relationships, puberty changes, menstrual hygiene, safe sex, gender-based violence, and matters related to contraceptives. This information enables young people to gain skills and make informed choices,” says Venoranda Kuboka, a Child and Adolescent Therapist.

According to her, sex education is culturally appropriate, scientifically proven, age-appropriate, and should be evidence-based.

Venoranda grew up in an area where sex was immoral and talking about it was a taboo. She watched many of her peers succumb to sexual ills like early pregnancy due to a lack of this kind of information.

“I grew up in Limuru and I could not walk for a long distance without seeing a young woman between the age of nine to 11 years with a child or pregnant. I lost so many friends to teen pregnancies.”

She remembers people getting surprised when they saw her going for her secondary school classes, unlike her age mates who were at home because it was a rare occurrence. There was little value for education and cases to do with GBV were high in the region.

“I wanted to make a change and not just be one of those people complaining about the rising cases of teen pregnancy.”

Venoranda started Youth Changers Kenya (YCK), an initiative aimed at creating awareness and sharing information on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).

Founded in 2015, YCK has impacted the lives of many young girls through mentorship and transforming mentees into mentors.

The organisation offers sex education in a way that the current generation can relate to, a concept that has not been taken up by other organisations.

One way of achieving relatable sessions is by having a peer-led approach. This is when someone who is of the same age bracket as the mentees is required to give the talk. This way, they will listen and ask questions without fear.

Lucy Nyoro, an SRHR and mental health advocate and economist by profession, is one of the mentors who young girls in the organisation look up to.

Nyoro joined the organisation as a mentee, but was later absorbed by the organization and got a platform to continue doing advocacy work. She is currently the Monitoring and Devolution Officer at YCK.

Lucy has been devoted to educating young girls and women on sexual issues for over six years.

“I remember having a UTI when I was young, but I had no idea what that was at the time. I decided to go and take a look at my vulva through a mirror and what I saw traumatised me. I wondered whether that is how it is supposed to look and I googled. My first thought was to Google what abnormal vaginas look like. It was horrible! In as much as mine looked okay I never went back to Google what normal vulvas look like. I wanted to ask a senior, but I couldn’t because of the shame that came with it,” said Lucy.

Another beneficiary, Joyce Obuya, expressed how happy she was to find an avenue that answers the ‘taboo’ questions.

“l grew up in an environment where people could just take a hug, kiss, and touch without asking if it’s okay to. As a child, I wish I had been educated more about consent and boundaries, that my body belonged to me and I could make my own informed decisions about it,” said Joy.

Joyce grew up in a Christian family that did not talk about sex. Anytime she would ask about sexual health or anything around it, the answer would be as short as “You can only have sex after marriage.”

“Most information I had was mainly acquired either from friends, the internet, and a little bit from school. At the end of it, I had jumbled up information, which was hard to interpret. I had challenges understanding my own body, navigating relationships, and making informed decisions about my sexual health,” she added.

When family, especially parents abscond this duty, the current generation of young people use the internet.

Several homesteads believe that it is the work of the aunties and uncles to give sex talk to their nephews and nieces instead of the parents. From Venoranda’s professional experience, it would be better if the conversation was held with the parents.

According to her, sex education sessions should include positive things about sex instead of making intercourse look like a crime with dire consequences.

“You go to a school set up and you see photos portraying STIs and STDs. They are so scary that they leave you wondering whether there is anything good about sex. It is only equated to diseases, but never addressed as a pleasurable experience for people over the age of 18.”

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