Kenya condom advert pulled after religious complaints

  • 20 March 2013
  • From the section Africa
Media captionKenyan safe sex advert taken off air

A TV advertisement promoting condom use in Kenya has been withdrawn after an outcry by religious leaders, health official Peter Cherutich has said.

Christian and Muslim clerics said the advert encouraged infidelity, rather than safe sex to curb HIV/Aids.

In the government-sponsored advert, a woman in an extra-marital affair is advised to use condoms.

Dr Cherutich told the BBC the advert had been launched because up to 30% of married couples had other partners.

Around 1.6 million people out of Kenya's population of 41.6 million are living with HIV, according to the UN.

The Kenyan Anglican Church's Bishop Julius Kalu said the advert, shown on free-to-air TV stations at peak audience times, had promoted extra-marital affairs and sex among school pupils, Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reports.

"There are better ways of passing useful information to society. This one has certainly failed," he is quoted as saying.

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


In a BBC Focus on Africa interview, Dr Cherutich said that while the advert had been withdrawn, he was unapologetic about its message - that it was essential for people to use condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.

A survey had shown that between 20% and 30% of married couples had other sexual partners, yet a majority of them did not use condoms, said Dr Cherutich, the deputy director of Kenya's National Aids and STI Control Programme.

Kenya's Muslim religious body, the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), also condemned TV stations for showing the one-minute-long advert.

"The advertisement depicts this nation as Sodom and Gomorra and not one that values the institution of marriage and family," Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa, CIPK's organising secretary, told Kenya's Business Daily newspaper.

The BBC's Anne Soy in the capital, Nairobi, says many conservative Kenyans supported religious leaders in opposing the advert.

Some parents said they found it embarrassing to watch the advert with their children, and switched channels when it appeared, she reports.

The advert was part of a series of anti-HIV campaigns that health officials have been running in Kenya for years.

Its slogan board said it had been sponsored by Kenya's health ministry, USAid and UKAid - an apparent reference to the UK government's department of international development, our correspondent says.

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

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