#oopsex and youth views on love, sex and relationships

  • Blog
  • 30 Nov 2018

On November 26, 2018, we held a roundtable discussion with Sexual and Reproductive Health stakeholders on the findings of Part II of our State of Kenyan Youth 2018 report, which brings together insights from the annual, national survey of Kenyans aged 15-24. Interviews with 7,000+ young people reveal trends in youth attitudes, beliefs, motivations and hindrances when making a decision to learn about and use secural and reproductive health services and products.

Since 2016, there has been a continued upward trend in the proportion of sexually active 15-24-year-olds, mostly driven by the increase in sexual activity among urban adolescent females. A concerning trend is that urban adolescents (both male and female) demonstrate the lowest rates of contraception uptake resulting in a stark increase in pregnancy rates between 2016 and 2018. The fluidity of adolescent relationships in the digital age is amplified by the viral “woke” trends on social media, together making sex more frequent but even less predictable. It’s #oopsex, which is neither planned nor protected.

Natasha Kimani, Head of Programmes at Well Told Story (Shujaaz Inc), says “Last year, we talked about including boys in conversations on sexuality, relationships, and protection. This year we are worried about girls using crossed fingers as their only contraceptive when having sex. This dilemma is worsened by the power dynamics in relationships where younger girls are increasingly dating older boys and men. This leaves them vulnerable to having unplanned and unprotected sex.”

But there is good news too. The data suggest that meaningful conversations with sexual partners, exposure to more FP options and positive relationships with parents and siblings all contribute towards females showing higher rates of trial and consistent use of contraception. Another strong argument involves addressing the core reasons for girls’ vulnerability, which are financial despair and the resulting lack of agency.

At Well Told Story (Shujaaz Inc), we are focused on norming modern contraception among young Kenyans by encouraging an open conversation, celebrating positive deviants and empowering youth to have safer sex and more fun on their terms.