14 February 2018

Kenya: Valentine's Day Stokes Debate on Condom Use Among Muslims

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Sharp divisions have emerged among Muslims at the Coast over the use of condoms by its faithful.

Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) organizing secretary Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa disagreed with doctors, scientists, lobby groups championing against the spread of HIV and AIDS and members of the Mombasa County Assembly over condom use among Muslims.

Sheikh Khalifa said distributing free condoms to Kenyans would encourage them to be promiscuous.

"The only and best way to stop infections is to preach abstinence and Kenyans to stop adultery. But telling people to use condoms is like telling them to denounce God and go against his teachings," Sheikh Khalifa told Nairobi News in an interview.

REMAIN FAITHFUL

Sheikh Khalifa insisted that married people should not use condoms but should instead remain faithful.

On Tuesday evening, AIDS healthcare Foundation (AHF) distributed 300,000 condoms in Mombasa and tested 600 people of HIV.

But Mombasa County Assembly deputy speaker Fadhili Mwalimu called for use of protection and an end to stigmatisation against those affected by the scourge.

Mr Mwalimu, however, maintained that according to Islam, faithful are not allowed to have premarital sex.

"Let us not bury our heads in the sand. Our children are engaging in sex at a very young age. HIV/AIDS is real. It is time for Muslim leaders to urge faithful to use condom to protect themselves against it," he said.

Speaking during commemoration of World Condom Day at Kenya Coast College in Mombasa, the deputy speaker said condoms have no religious affiliation.

'CONDOM IS PROTECTION'

"As Muslims we are against condom use. But condom is a protection. We are forgetting our children can get infected. I urge Muslim leaders to change perception and know using condom does not mean one is promiscuous," he added.

County Assembly Health committee chairman Kibwana Swaleh said Muslims should not shy away from using protection due to religious belief.

"HIV and AIDs does not discriminate, it doesn't know you are a Muslim, Pagan or a Christian. We must use condoms to protect us against sexual transmitted diseases. If you can't control yourself and abstain please use condom," Mr Swaleh said.

According to statistics from the National Aids Control Council, four people get infected with HIV every day in Mombasa.

NEW INFECTIONS

"Among the infected two are youths between 18 to 24 those are adolescents and young persons. Two people die every day due to HIV and AIDS in Mombasa. NACC is insisting on condom use to stop new infections and stop unwanted pregnancies," NACC Coast coordinator Julius Koome.

AIDS healthcare Foundation (AHF) officials said they will promote the use of condoms to Kenyans to fight the epidemic.

"Many people are against the use of condoms but it does not discriminate it can affect anybody regardless of religious or political affiliation. Let's attack this epidemic from all angles regardless of our beliefs, people are having sex. We're all at risk, we need to take care of ourselves by engaging all tactics," Dr Maureen Mutinda said.

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