Living in a failed society

Condoms for kids. I’m having some trouble wrapping my head around those three not-so-little words. I cannot imagine telling my daughter to go forth and fornicate. I just can’t. And yet, these are the times we live in. Times where children as young as nine years old are having sex and thinking nothing of it.

If sex had no consequence, this would be a totally different discussion. But throw unwanted pregnancy, STIs and HIV into the mix, and we are forced to form sentences that include those three words. When babies are having babies, things are thick. Worse still when children die from a disease they could have avoided.

But what to do? Do we engage in an endless argument about whose fault it is that our children are hypersexulised, or do take the quickest route and use a condom to contain the seed of our discontent?

Fellow Kenyans, we are living in a failed society. Forget the State. The rot that is spilling into the street from every quarter is nothing if not a reflection of what we have become.

When 30 per cent of new HIV infections are among adolescents, we have a problem. While we can insist on blaming the almighty West for our own moral lapses, it doesn’t mean that we have to accept their solutions.

The global ‘All In’ campaign to end adolescent Aids, launched by the President at KICC last month, does not explicitly endorse giving school children condoms. But the wording of the literature is ambiguous enough to envision a scenario where handing out rubbers by the fistful would be well within the mandate.

That it comes at a time when there is a Democrat in the White House is no surprise. If you cast your mind back to the ‘dark days’ of George W Bush – a Republican – you will recall that his ‘ABC’ HIV and Aids policy began with abstinence. Condoms were a last resort. The ‘B’ stood for ‘be faithful’, something that is quickly becoming an alien concept in Kenyan society. Unfaithfulness in our adult population has been normalised, and yet we turn around and wonder what is happening to our kids. Go figure.

But all things considered, and taking into account that the genie is already out of the bottle, how can we manage this situation? Well, whether I can imagine it or not, at some point in our future, my daughter and I will have to come to an uneasy understanding about her sexual choices. Whether I like it or not, at some point she’s going to decide to take the plunge, and it would be foolish of me to let her dive into that river between childhood and adulthood without a floater.

Thanks to globalisation and digital peer influencing, there is every possibility that she might come to that fork in the road earlier than I did. I’m not going to chain her to her bed without a television, radio or the Internet until she’s 18, even though the thought did cross my mind.

What I will do is make sure that she understands the nature of the beast. Unfortunately, sex is a beast that needs to be tamed. So we’re right back where we started with those three not-so-little words. Will I give my kid condoms? Yes. Because we will lose the opportunity to deal with the consequences of her choices if she is dead.