A Kenyan TV advert promoting the use of condoms in extra-marital affairs has caused a stir among a section of religious leaders and some on social media in the country.
The advert has been sponsored by Kenya’s ministry of public health, USAID and UKAID.
Dubbed ‘Weka Condom Mpangoni’, which loosely translates to ‘use a condom when having an affair’, makers of the advert say it is intended to educate the public on the importance of condom use.
The advert features a woman having a conversation with her friend about her marriage. When she confides that she is having an extra-marital relationship, her friend advises her to practise safe sex. They also discuss the dangers of spreading HIV.
But critics argue the ad is promoting immorality rather than playing its intended education role. And some have even posed questions about whether the Communications Commission of Kenya should have banned it.
“There are better ways of passing useful information to the society,” said the Anglican Church of Kenya Mombasa Dioceses Bishop Julius Kalu.
“It creates immorality, especially when members of families are gathered around television sets waiting to watch news,” Kalu added.
The Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), on the other hand, say that media houses should not let their commercial interests override moral values when accepting advertisements.
“The advertisement depicts this nation as Sodom and Gomorra and not one that values the institution of marriage and family,” said CIPK organising secretary Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa.
But the verbal war has also gone viral online with both Kenyans on Facebook and Twitter expressing divided reactions.
A Facebook fan page against the advert has already been created dubbed “Kenyans Against the ‘weka Condom Mpangoni’ Campaign Advert”.
The group’s message headlines: ‘What is this campaign really promoting? We believe that the solution to marital woes is not promiscuity,and this should not be publicly promoted!’
Dimitri, a Kenyan on Twitter, has argued, “The same folks who can’t sit down with their teens and discuss sex don’t want the ‘Weka Condom Mpangoni’ ad running during ‘family time’”.
Experts on reproductive health have; however, come out guns blazing in defense of the advert insisting that contrary to the perception that the advert is promoting infidelity, HIV/AIDS prevalence is on the rise: especially among married people with infidelity to blame. The number of people living with Aids in Kenya currently stands at 1.6 million.