Pornography, a nightmare in Kenyan teens

Unlike most six-year-olds who spend their days playing with toys and chasing rainbows, the young days of Alex* (not his real name) were characterized by introduction to pornography and defilement.

Growing up in the early 2000s, Alex was among the lucky families that owned a DVD player and television set. This was what their house help Sophia used to watch the pornography videos in his presence. 

Being a child, his innocent self took caresses by the house help to be sinless touches. He did not realise what impact it would later have in his life. 

“She touched my private parts and I remember laughing at that. It felt like we were playing together and I took no offence,” Alex said.

Every time Sophia was away, the six-year-old would insert the pornography disks into the DVD player to be watched behind closed doors and drawn curtains.

Having come from a wealthy home, Alex had his first phone at 10 years. Craving to consume sexually explicit content, he began watching pornography on his mobile phone.

At this point, he was increasingly becoming attracted to girls in his class. This came after masturbating for some time.

“Ideally, masturbation was quite fulfilling at first. It gave me the feel that I could not have in real life since I was shy and could not approach a girl for sex,” Alex said.

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Over time, fulfillment from masturbation reduced and he approached a girl for sex at 12 years. Alex was in class six and since then, “it was tough for me as I tried to battle my sexual arousal”, he lamented.

CURIOSITY TURNED ADDICTION

There are times Alex would isolate himself from friends who had no idea he was hooked to pornography. Most thought he was anti-social and very introverted, yet according to him, it was a cover-up for his ‘dirty little secret’.

Alex now sees a psychologist every week as he heals from an addiction that has crippled his education. Now in a local university, he has deferred for a year to get counselling that will ease his rehabilitation journey.

Alex’s story resonates with a recent study by TIFA called ‘TeenSpeak Opinion Poll Report, April 2019’. At least 55 per cent of students have watched pornographic content and 25 per cent of students have engaged in sex.

Diana*, at 13 years, watched her mother, who owned a bar, continually bring men to the house. Having grown without a dad, she could sometimes sneak into her mother’s room and watch her mother have sex with these men.

Having seen my mum in the act with these men, I got interested in knowing more. Using my phone, I started researching on sex. That is how I landed myself on a pornography site

Diana said pornography was getting addictive so fast that she continually spent money buying more and more bundles. It got to a point she would steal money to purchase data bundles to finance her addiction.

“At first, I watched pornography out of curiosity. Over time, it was no longer curiosity but the urge to get sexually aroused. I am now in a relationship and my partner and I watch porn as a kick to get intimate. The animal is too addictive,” Diana said.

In secondary school, Diana secretly had sexual intercourse with the older men that came to the bar. According to her, it was the only way she could feel better after watching pornography for a long time.

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“I remember using the tip of soda bottles to satisfy my curiosity about sex, as displayed by my mother and the different sites I visited. I almost lost my life in a bid to get satisfaction but I am slowly but surely healing from the addiction,” Diana said as she broke down.

HUNGER FOR SEX

During school holidays, Diana would sneak out of their house to meet a man who would pay her for ‘sexual favours’. In her opinion, her mother never paid attention to those she interacted with, and this made her less guilty about her actions.

In her early twenties, she introduced pornography to her friends, who embraced the addiction, too. By involving her friends, Diana was content, as she had people to talk to about her sex life that she wishes her mother had talked with her about.

The TeenSpeak report also revealed that in every 10 students, only five have discussed sex-related matters at least once in the past 12 months.

Going without sex is like a disease for me. I cannot think straight without it. My late mother gave me too much freedom. If I had been forewarned, I would not be dealing with the consequences of my actions now

Diana

At least 49 per cent of male students and 31 per cent of female students have not had a single discussion on sexual matters in the past 12 months.

As for Diana, talking about sex is an important segment in the growth of a teenager. “I will ensure my daughter has lots of knowledge on sex and the effects pornography can have on an individual,” she says.

 Millicent Akeyo, a parent said, “I have not been addicted to pornography before but I know how detrimental its effects can get. I purposed a few years ago to feed my teenage daughter with knowledge on sex and pornography. I also encourage her to be open about her sexual life.”

As for Alex, pornography addiction killed his social life completely, as he was always behind closed doors and in dark places. Agemates found him unapproachable and highly irritable.

He is now out of school for a year, as he was performing poorly and could not concentrate in class. The addiction has had a negative effect on his studies.

“I hope to do better in my studies next year after undergoing counselling this whole year,” he said.

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For Diana, pornography addiction escalated to a whole new addiction, sex addiction. She is now at a point that she cannot go for two days without sex.

HOW IT GROWS

Far from other addictions, pornography highly blossoms in solitude and secrecy. External intervention and detection, therefore, become increasingly difficult.

Silas Kirinya, a psychologist and CEO at Amazon Counselling Center, said pornography addiction may lead to increased guilt, especially where one’s behaviour conflicts with held values. The intense constant guilt may lead to depression and even suicide.

Kirinya said it is natural to be sexual during puberty, as information is readily available on social media. Readily available safe sex information and protection accelerate sexual intercourse, as there is no fear of pregnancy or STDs.

Long-term effects of pornography include sexual dysfunction. One does not get sexually satisfied by another person, but porn personalities only. When your partner does not perform like a pornstar, interpersonal conflicts arise in a long-term relationship

Kirinya added that pornography addiction leads to paedophile behaviour. If one has watched porn and no one is willing to have sex with them, children become an easy target, as they are helpless, defenceless and unable to identify the perpetrator. This criminal act could land one in jail.

Peter Njagi, a psychiatrist and former in-charge Mathare Mental hospital said, “This is a time bomb. Addicts are unable to deal with problems, as they have difficulties forming social relationships, leading to depression, anxiety and drug abuse. Parents to addicts and the addicts themselves should seek help from professionals.” 

Adolescents ought to be more cautious to avoid falling into the same addiction trap.

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