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Youth & Sex: Is it still cool to be a virgin?

By Vision Reporter

Added 20th May 2010 03:00 AM

TWENTY-THREE-YEAR-OLD Kate Sabiti (not real name) is a virgin, a quality she says brings her despair. Her hostel roommates have had sex with their boyfriends and think she could become an old maid if she stays a virgin.

TWENTY-THREE-YEAR-OLD Kate Sabiti (not real name) is a virgin, a quality she says brings her despair. Her hostel roommates have had sex with their boyfriends and think she could become an old maid if she stays a virgin.

By Gilbert Kidimu

TWENTY-THREE-YEAR-OLD Kate Sabiti (not real name) is a virgin, a quality she says brings her despair. Her hostel roommates have had sex with their boyfriends and think she could become an old maid if she stays a virgin.

“I told myself that I would wait until I was in love to lose my virginity, but everyone makes fun of me. I’m thinking about losing my virginity to my friend just to get it over with.”

Ivan Musoke gave in to peer pressure and lost his virginity three years ago, at 17. “I was apparently late compared to everyone else in my basketball team. It is the only time I have had sex. It was a one-time thing just for the experience.”

Andrew Kasirye, in his early 20s, thinks if you lose your virginity, your peers will accept you as a straight guy. They consider you a real man who can handle the ladies. “If I told anybody that I was still a virgin at my age, they would tease and make fun of me, saying I’m gay, or a mummy’s boy.”

The Human Watch report 2005 says young people today tend to start having sex at an early age. Demographic and health surveys show that over half of Ugandan girls have had sex by 17, usually with someone older.

“We don’t think abstinence is really working in our communities. We work with children from P.5 to P.7 who engage in sexual activities. We always come with the message to delay the first sexual encounter, but this is not enough,” a youth leader in Kabarole says.

This happens despite widespread abstinence campaigns. In 2001, the Government launched a programme to expand HIV prevention education to all primary and secondary schools.

Funded by the US, the Presidential Initiative on AIDS Strategy for Communication to Youth (PIASCY) promotes abstinence-until-marriage messages through classroom activities and youth rallies.

On World AIDS Day 2004, the First Lady Janet Museveni, perhaps the best-known proponent of abstinence, called for a national virgin census.

However, many young people think abstinence is waiting to have sex until you find someone you love, not until marriage. A statement like “I’m saving myself for marriage” earns chuckles from peers.

Barbara Nakato, a systems administrator, is convinced that the days when premarital sex was frowned upon are dead and gone.

“Today, guys no longer look at virgin girls as priceless. Some say virgin girls are inexperienced and boring,” Nakato says.

Alec Rabwoni, a student at Makerere University, disagrees: “I don’t think virginity is losing its power. It is just that we no longer have all those posters screaming at us to abstain, and all those iron underpants stories.”

Nancy Twijukye, who says she is abstaining from sex with her boyfriend, says many girls have sex because they love their boyfriends and do not want to lose them by denying them sex.

Why are children having sex early?,/b>
Steven Langa, the director of Family Life Network, says while in certain quarters of society virginity pride treads a downward spiral, in others the reverse is eminent.

“Now more than ever young people who have been sensitised about the value of abstinence till marriage are living up to it.

“But in the general society, due to globalisation and westernisation, it’s a different story. Everything out of Hollywood seems to downplay the very essence of abstinence and the value of marriage.

It portrays that it is cool to have one-night stands, sex is about having fun and emotional attachment is never considered, and as long as they have it safe, children in high school are free to have sex. This has influenced the youth’s perceptions,” Langa says.

Pastor and counsellor Mark Kigozi emphasises the influence of media. In music videos, a high life is about having women around you. Without that, you are not cool.

“Broken families have also left young people with peers, movie stars and music icons as role models because parents are never around,” Kigozi says.

Solutions to curb premarital sex
Joseph Musaalo, a counselling psychologist at Uganda Christian University, Mukono (UCU), blames present perceptions on the erosion of traditional and religious values.

Originally, virginity was revered, but it is now ridiculed in some circles.
Musaalo says families, religious bodies and academic institutions should re-inculcate lost values into society.

“Parents ought to teach both girls and boys to value virginity,” he says.
In 2004, at a youth conference, the First Lady cautioned teenagers to ignore those who advertise condoms saying they are only after money. She encouraged them to practise God-centred self-control.

“I cannot advise you to take any shortcuts or compromise your lives by using condoms, in order to facilitate any desire to go against God’s clear plan for your life,” she told students of UCU recently.

Teenagers should know that sex feels just as good when you are married. There is no need to rush into it.

What do you think? Send your comments through SMS by typing ‘weekend’ leave a space and send to 8338 or write to weekend @newvision.co.ug

Youth & Sex: Is it still cool to be a virgin?

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