A controversial condom advertisement that has been recently running on TV, radio and social media has stirred emotions and made it into the headlines and on news bulletin.
The Ad, produced by Psi and NASCOP entails two women having a chit-chat in the market. One inquires from the other, a ‘mama Mitchelle’, how her husband is fairing, then she proceeds to inquire about ‘the lover’ as well, popularly known as “mpango wa Kando”.
“Najua mnapendana,lakini lazima mtumie condom” I know you love each other, but you must use a condom)”, the lady responds. Then a voice over sums up the advert with the word, “linda uwapendao,weka condom mpangoni (regardless of your choice, tag a condom along and protect your loved ones)”.
RELIGIOUS LEADERS ATTACK AD
A section of religious leaders were the first to go vocal on the Ad, condemning the communications regulator (CCK) for failure to take action against the condom advert aired on national TV stations before prime time news. According to Bishop Julius Kalu of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Mombasa Diocese, the advert openly agitated for extra-marital affairs and sex among school-going children.
DEBATE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
The debate took to social media as always and the following are some of the different sentiments shared;
Ann Trizah: “The Ad is telling people that it’s okay to have a mpango wa kando(mwk) as long as you use protection” according to one …….”
Samuel Wekesa: “I have no problem with the AD, but the conversation among the ladies should have been scripted to show that it was not okay to have a Mpango Wa Kando regardless”.
Mourice Seretta: “The Ad promotes Mpango wa Kando and promiscuity in a relationship provided you use a condom! It should be stopped from running!! Period! Watu Waache Mpango wa Kando ama Wakufe Period!”
Maureen Wekuke: “It’s a fact that people have sex, and people have mpango wa kando. I think the Ad is real.”
Ker Brian Okoth; “While condoning mpango wa kando is abhorrent, we can’t bury our heads in the sand when statistics show new infections and HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is high among the married. People are thus urged to at least use protection if they have to keep a MWK. My people perish because of lack of knowledge!”
NASCOP, the organization behind the Ad, in a quick response to the raised concerns, released a detailed report in defense, under the title; REDUCING NEW HIV INFECTIONS AMONG MEN AND WOMEN IN CONCURRENT SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS
The Kenya HIV Response and Modes of Transmission Analysis of 2009 estimated that more than 44% of all new HIV infections in Kenya are occurring in stable or long-term relationships such as marriages. The main reasons for this high HIV incidence rates in these types of relationships can be attributed to the following reasons:
1. Having more than one sexual partner puts people at a much higher risk of contracting HIV especially during the period following new infection (a few weeks to one month) when viral load is high and people are likely to transmit HIV (KAIS, 2009).
2. Unprotected sex with a person of unknown HIV status. According to the Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey (KAIS) of 2009, about 80% of all persons infected with HIV do not know their status.
3. Condom use in multiple & concurrent sexual partnerships is low. As this side relationships continue to last there is a tendency for people to feel they can trust their partners to the point where it precludes the use of condoms, putting the people who engage in them at high risk of contracting HIV and subsequently also infecting their steady partners.
4. Risk perception to HIV amongst people in unions has been low as they have always considered themselves to be at low risk of HIV infection due to having only ‘one’ partner. People who are still ignorant of the risks that their partner’s sexual history puts them in as well as the risk brought on by sexual networks created.
NASCOP together with partners has developed a campaign geared at reducing new infections in these concurrent relationships by promoting consistent condom use among married men and women with their concurrent sexual partners and also among single women who have concurrent sexual relationships regardless of marital status.
The campaign is targeted primarily at those people who despite knowing the risks of engaging in concurrent sexual relationships have made a decision to continue with them.
The behavioral Objective is to increase correct and consistent condom use among men and women aged 25-49 in multiple and concurrent sexual relationships in order to protect themselves and their families.
The campaign dubbed Walinde Uwapendao is airing on TV, radio and social media. The objective of the campaign is to create discussions amongst the target population and get them to understand the risks of the side relationships and take up action of protecting their steady partners by using condoms or dropping their side partners all together.”
Well, the Ad has so far been suspended but going by the statistics HIV prevalence rate is highest among married couples and this could only mean one thing; that promiscuity is rampant in the marriage institution.
A previous advertisement featuring popular TV personality Jimmy Gathu, dubbed “wachana na mpango wa kando”, portrayed the looming picture of how the contraction of HIV might seem so farfetched to many, yet it was so close: “Your mpango wa kando, could have another, who has another, who has HIV/Aids.”
It’s no longer rare to hear or even pin point a person that has contracted HIV from his/her partner and children are orphaned as a result.
SEX, CONDOMS AND HIV: ADDRESSING THE REAL ISSUES
This Kenya Forum correspondent is of the opinion that Kenyans need to be real and stop addressing existing issues, based on what they think is right, while putting a blind eye on the facts. Actually as a good number of women confessed in a secret group on Facebook, the first thing you want to know after finding your partner is having an affair is whether he has been using protection.
It’s not morally right, in fact promiscuity is a sin but the choice to stay faithful to one’s spouse lays with an individual but a reminder, or a caution rather, to protect yourself and your loved ones could go a great way in saving a life.
Perhaps it’s time we learned to look at the other side of the coin as well. And as one David Kinyua reasoned out, “maybe because she is a woman…if it was a man talking like that and winking to a fellow man, no one would have noticed.”