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Why having a ‘sponsor’ appeals to many Kenyan youth

More than half of Kenyan youth believe it is okay to cheat on their partners with richer people, according to a new survey.

Of those interviewed, 65 per cent said it was okay to have what they call “a sponsor”, while 33 per cent confessed to having one.

That means one in three young people in the country is probably cheating on their partners with a richer lover, and two out of three approve of this nefarious arrangement.

The study, by communications company A Well Told Story,  interrogated youths’ relationships with, and attitudes towards their love lives, their sources of income, how they spend their money, as well as what they do for fun. The study was dubbed #sexmoneyfun.

The term “sponsor” is a colloquial expression among the young, used to refer to older and more financially stable men and women whom young people date, chiefly for financial gain.

The existence of “sponsors” was found to further muddy the murky sexual lives of the youth, with the question of contraceptives becoming even more complicated when sponsors are present in the relationship.

“By their mere presence, sponsors turn any relationships, however serious, into casual sex, thus making ‘family planning’ irrelevant,” says the report.

Seven out of 10 young Kenyans are sexually active by the age of 20. A quarter of these will have conceived by the time they celebrate their 20th birthday.

USE OF CONTRACEPTIVES

The study also shows that there exists a disturbing disparity between the number of Kenyan youth who are sexually active, those who know about contraceptives, and those who actually use them.

Only a third of respondents have tried to use any form of contraceptive at least once, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority — 92 per cent — said they were aware of at least one contraceptive.

Of those interviewed, only 19 per cent said they used contraceptives regularly.

“Contraceptives are rarely part of the routine, not because of shortage of knowledge, but because young Kenyans do not see the relevance of ‘family planning’ to their love lives,” states the report.

The study also found that for most young Kenyans, using contraceptives means admitting to themselves that they are no longer single and are ready to “settle”.

In addition, there are varying disparities about how contraceptives are perceived between genders and this affected contraceptive use.

The study found that while most youth think that it is wise, even cool, for boys or men to carry condoms, girls who carried condoms are viewed as immoral or as cheats.

‘EMERGENCY SEX’

“It is OK for a young man to carry a condom ‘just in case’ – i.e., for ‘emergency sex’. Men often have sex without planning for it, hence it is acceptable for men to carry a condom in case an opportunity presents itself,” says the report.

“Women do not have ‘emergency sex’ — they always plan in advance. If a woman carries a condom, she plans to have sex, and not with her current partner,” said the respondents.

According to the report, mobile phones have been found to be the social capital that runs the lives of young people.

Two out of every three young people between the ages of 15 and 24 own at least one mobile phone, and 12 per cent of these own more than one phone.

The study found that seven in 10 of those interviewed had more than one social media account, the most popular being Facebook (92 per cent) and Whatsapp (63 per cent).

“Mobile phones are at the centre of youths’ lives delivering everything from romance to sex to money to fun and beyond. Mobile phones are also a channel for gaining social capital — by entering the public space of social media, however briefly,” said the report.

Half of the youth interviewed said they did not have enough money to cater for their daily needs.