Talking about Sex: Contemporary Construction of Sexuality in Rural Kenya

Discussion of sexuality in Kuria District in rural Kenya is constrained by relationships of respect between parents and children. Grandparents and peers were, and continue to be, the main sources of knowledge and information on the subject. As the arbiters of norms and values, grandparents convey reproduction as the goal of sexual activity, carried out within the context of marital responsibilities. Peers provide a more practice-oriented perspective, as well as form the community of peers which ultimately enforces the norms, based on cultural notions of appropriate and inappropriate behavior. The growing importance of education, mandated by shifting economic, political, and social contexts is helping redefine roles and expectations, but has not yet become fully integrated into the discourse or processes needed to define guidelines for regulating adolescent sexuality to reflect more closely the contemporary situation within which adolescents learn about and practice appropriate sexual behaviors.