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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 22, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 12
Kenya pulls condom ad under religious pressure
Section One
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Kenya pulls condom ad under religious pressure

Government TV spot recognized reality of extramarital sex

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Kenyan government has pulled a TV ad promoting condom use, under pressure from religious leaders.

According to Kenyan public health official Dr. Peter Cherutich, the government sponsored the ad because up to 30% of married couples have had sexual partners other than their spouses.

The ad, shown in prime time on free TV stations, is part of an ongoing HIV prevention campaign and was paid for by Kenya's health ministry, with help from USAid and the British Department of International Development.

Kenya has some 1.6 million people living with HIV out of a total population of 41.6 million, according to the UN.

A FRIENDLY CHAT
BBC News reports the ad depicts two women walking together to market. Woman 1 asks Woman 2 about her husband. Woman 2 says her husband has become a drunk who spends most of his time at the bar.

Woman 1 then asks about 'the other one,' and Woman 2 glances at a man selling fruit nearby. Woman 2 says she is happy with him, even though she does not spend much time with him.

Woman 1 then asks if she uses a condom, and Woman 2 is quiet, but looks embarrassed.

The ad ends with Woman 1 telling Woman 2 that she should use a condom to protect herself and her loved ones, as a schoolgirl runs toward Woman 2 and hugs her.

The final tagline is 'Weka Condom Mpangoni,' meaning 'Factor a condom in your plans.'

LIKE 'SODOM & GOMORRAH'
Almost immediately, religious leaders denounced the ad. Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu said the ad promoted extramarital affairs and sex among school pupils.

'There are better ways of passing useful information to society. This one has certainly failed,' he told the Daily Nation newspaper.

'It openly propagates immorality, especially when all family members are gathered before television sets, waiting to watch news,' Kalu said.

'The advertisement depicts this nation as Sodom and Gomorra,' Muslim cleric Sheikh Khalifa agreed.

More than 80% of Kenyans are Christians, with Muslims forming the second biggest religious group.

Cherutich told BBC News that although the Kenyan government had withdrawn the ad, he was unapologetic about the message - that it is essential for people to use condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.

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