Decry Kenyan Government for Pulling Pro-Condom Advertisement from the Air

Kenyan Women HIV/AIDS Support Group

Target: Francis Wangusi, Director-General of the Communications Commission of Kenya

Goal: Reconsider the censorship of a pro-condom advertisement based on claims that it promotes infidelity.

Kenya’s government has carried out many efforts to combat the ever-prevalent issue of the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country. However, one such effort, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and United Kingdom-funded television advertisement promoting the use of condoms has raised religious and public outcry. The ad, which features two women talking in a marketplace, has been condemned by religious leaders for allegedly promoting extramarital affairs, and, as Bishop Julius Kalu of the Anglican Church of Kenya claims, “openly propagating immorality.” The women in the advertisement discuss the first woman’s husband, who is often away, and her boyfriend, with the second woman advising the first to wear a condom when engaging in intercourse with her boyfriend to prevent the spread of disease. Christian and Muslim leaders expressed outrage at this outright discussion of infidelity, saying that it sheds a poor light on Kenyan morality and encourages adultery rather than safe sex.

However, defendants of the ad argue that adultery is common in Kenya, and that choosing to ignore it will only propagate the spread of diseases like HIV/AIDS. Doctor Peter Cherutich, the head of Kenya’s National AIDS/STD Control Program (NASCOP), has said that the organization has done its duty to help decrease the spread of sexually transmitted diseases even in the face of infidelity. According to Cherutich, a certain level of cooperation is needed between the church and NASCOP, in that it is the duty of the church to promote sexual health through faithfulness to one’s partner, and it is the duty of NASCOP to advocate the use of condoms when infidelity does occur. The ultimate goal, Cherutich asserts, is the prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS, and overcoming cultural stigmas, including the stereotype that only men are unfaithful, surrounding the disease is necessary to ensure its prevention. Ignoring the reality of infidelity can only harm efforts to educate Kenyans about sexual health and impede the spread of deadly diseases.

Ask that the Communications Commission of Kenya reassess the censoring of this pro-condom advertisement in light of the reality of infidelity in the country and the imperative need for increased education surrounding HIV/AIDS prevention in Kenya.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director-General Francis Wangusi,

A recent television advertisement that supported the use of condoms has been brought to scrutiny for its depiction of a woman in an extramarital affair, and subsequently pulled from the air. While religious leaders have raised an outcry, stating that the advertisement promoted infidelity and immorality, the ad actually provides an important message in terms of HIV/AIDS prevention.

Infidelity will never be completely eradicated, yet this fact does not lessen the severity and seriousness of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and their long-lasting effects. Rather than ignore the reality of adultery, it is important to ensure that those who do engage in extramarital affairs lessen their risk of procuring potentially life-threatening diseases. Such was the aim of the pro-condom advertisement, and such should be the aim of the Kenyan government: to protect its citizens. Therefore, I respectfully ask that you reconsider the banning of the advertisement, and, rather than cultivate social stigmas surrounding sexually transmitted diseases, that you work to combat these diseases wherever people are at risk.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Khym54 via Flickr

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