By Njoki Maina
About five decades ago, cohabitation in institutions was unheard of. Marriage those days was treated as a sacred union between man and woman and no one would easily think of starting any union without following the due procedure.
Because of that, cases of students living together as man and wife were a taboo. So scandalous were they that when in 1968 Linda LeClair moved in with her boyfriend while both of them were university students, she made headlines.
LeClair was then a second year student at Barnard College while Peter Behr, the boyfriend she moved in with was a junior at Columbia College.
The story was so weighty that The New York Times ran a front page story about her struggle with the Institutional management. The Time magazine also ran a story about her in which they described her as ‘Linda the Light Housekeeper’.
But today, things have changed. Casual sex, among teenagers leave alone cohabitation has become the norm with experts saying media is to blame.
“The media has romanticized sex particularly through the adverts,”
says Ann Kamau, a student Counselor at Egerton University Nakuru Town Campus College (NTCC).
Kamau told Kenya Monitor that curiosity is another strong motivator for casual sex among teenagers particularly because adolescence is said to be a time for various experiments including sex and drugs.
In the last 3 months there have been reports that teenagers in different parts of the country have been caught engaging in casual sex at the dismay of the whole nation.
It started in August when more than 30 high school students traveling to Nairobi from Kirinyaga County were busted in a bus while high on drugs and having sex. Then in October more than 500 teenagers were arrested in Eldoret doing the same during what was reported as a ‘back to school’ party days before another group of teenagers were arrested in Nairobi on a similar offense.
According to Ann Kamau culture plays a big role in the society in shaping sexual behavior among the youth.
“Culturally people feel it’s not good to talk about sex. There is a lot of ignorance when it comes to sex and relationships,” she said.
She feels that parents should be more involved in shaping their children on matters related to sex as well as have policies formulated to address sex relationships in schools including the introduction of sex education.
Two years ago a 14 year old girl Mwanaharab Wamukoya delivered triplets in Bungoma. Her 16 year old teenage boyfriend was said to be responsible for the pregnancy proving that more teenagers are engaging in sex while still very young and that the country needs to take structural measures to curb the issue.