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"Dead Beat" is not the answer to responsibility question.

By George Arende | November 26th 2014
My usual search for information over the weekend, helped me discover a Facebook page called Dead Beat Kenya that has been trending in Kenya. It had topped more than 134,000 likes, in just a week of its existence. The sensational header would lead anyone to have an interest in reading what the page entails.

The administrator of the page, one Jackson Njeru must have made an observation about the increasing number of children growing without the presence of both parents. This indeed is a huge problem in Kenya. He went further to create a page that he dedicated to naming and shaming -men and women who have negated their parental responsibilities for whatever reason(s). The page allows fans to post personal details of "purported" men and women for public scrutiny and shaming. From mobile phone numbers to employment details; residential information and  selfies are some of the main features posted on the page. The aim is to shame men and women who abscond, their parental duties and responsibilities  and expose them for public scrutiny.

I took time to scroll through the posts, comments and likes, most of which are negative and expose the "accused" to a mob justice mentality. The genuineness of Jackson to highlight on the problem, might have been an attempt to solve the cancerous problem in Kenya. Men and women alike procreate and abandon children to women to toil in up-bring. In rare cases, women also abandon their children with their grannies and head back to the city to search for better life with less burden on their necks. Others meet "potential" marriage material partners who do not wish to enter into a relationship with a woman with a baby. Children are often raised by single parents while the other parent misses out. Whereas there is no doubt that the problem is widespread and raises concern for the well being of the children. Exposing the cases on social media is far from being a solution to the underlying cause of the problem in a society which shy away from discussing sexuality. Posting images and comments for naming and shaming, is only beneficial in accumulating sympathy votes, as opposed to addressing the root causes. Below is an exposition highlighting the deeply seated issues which ought to be addressed. Exposing anyone on social media platform is not the solution to the problem:

  1. Sexual encounters remain a private matter, and so should be the consequences. The cause and effects theory might be helpful to those who think one can have unprotected sex and wish pregnancy away. The locking of doors, shutting of windows and drawing of curtains demonstrate how private the bedroom activity is. Emotions should not lock out logic and readiness to face the consequences thereafter. Amplifying the matter beyond the subjective person only helps to sour the relationship and trust between the two. Its simply airing dirty linen in public.
  2. Both parties are equally responsible. The tendency to blame men whenever unplanned and unwanted pregnancy occurs is a cliche. Responsible women never give in to sex after rounds of shopping, gifts offers or favors. Equally, responsible men do not use the societal "powers" (finances and lyrics) to lead women to bed. Women and men are equally responsible for pregnancy. For this reason, blames and counter blames never resolve the need to care for the baby. Sieving wheat from chaff helps in determining potential in an individual to take responsibility in any eventuality. Women on this page blame men for not using condom. If i may ask, did any of them resist? and  if any did and the resistance fell on deaf ears. That would be termed as rape and should have been reported to police. Women condoms are for all reasons expensive to access, but that shouldn't be the excuse to put your life inline. 
  3. Knowing where and when to ask accountability questions, helps prevent search for sympathy votes on social media. It is known that women often use sex as a bargaining chip. Men on the other hand express determination to battle the demands for an ultimate goal which is either-marriage or sex. It is also said that men have two brains which cannot work simultaneously. I mean the real brain on your head and the other which acts as an agent of sex. Here is the mistake women make. Asking a man if he will be responsible and available for her, at a time the man is panting from testosterone release. Its known that almost all men give affirmative answers at such a time. Some psychology may help to prevent being abandoned alone with the baby. Ask the important questions when their is no influence whatsoever. I mean before you take the KBL product or endocrine gland release chemicals. Verify and verify the authenticity of the answer. Take life exercises to test the genuineness and even after that, don't be in rush to expose your labia minora. Avoiding what i call "minora induced confusion" among men should enable men to give NO answers at such a time.
  4. Posting pictures, phone numbers and other personal details is a blackmail gesture. No one posted images of the other on the day of the sexual encounter. Equally, non should for pregnancy or for consequences thereafter. Posting personal information on social media open windows to rumors, gossip and encourages unhealthy discussion often not beneficial to addressing the real issue. Here is my two sense. If you are unable to resolve sticky points with someone you had a sexual encounter with, what makes you believe adding social media crowd will help?
  5. Women are more empowered to negotiate for sex than it has been in the past. The gender campaigns to mainstream and sensitize women have yielded lot. Women understand their rights better than at any other time in history. Laws have been enacted and policies put in place to safeguard and protect women against sexual exploitation and abuse. Besides rape cases, which are often unfortunate. Women have capacity to negotiate for sex while understanding that they bare the greatest physical burden in the case of pregnancy. Unfortunately, more emphasis for use of condom to prevent pregnancy have bypassed the importance of condom in reducing HIV and AIDS risks.
  6. The "dead beat Kenya" Facebook platform opens avenue for abuse and defamation. It is well known that social media is faced with issues of gate keeping. Who verifies what is posted for authenticity remains a mirage. Posting unverified personal information on social media invites legal battle on defamation. We live in a greedy society where unscrupulous people can easily use such data to manipulate others in order to get some few coins. Use of existing legal provisions, for instance launching complaint with the children department may be more helpful in resolving such issues. Another expensive but scientific proven method of verifying parental dispute is DNA. Dehumanizing anyone on social media cannot be a solution or a trigger to influence fathers to pay child support. 

For women, next time before you have a sexual encounter with a man you perceive generous and kind, think through. Discuss about consequences of your collective action, DO NOT interpret gifts and outings as acts of responsibility for any eventuality. For men, before you deep into the warmth of a vagina, be ready for the consequences not unless you shoot blanks. Use a condom.

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