Until World Aids Day on December 1, New Vision will publish HIV-related stories daily. Today, George Wabweyo explores how the media is fuelling reckless sex and the spread of HIV
Scary! There is this group on Facebook. It is called No Strings Attached (NSA) Sex Uganda. A look at this group’s header sends shockwaves down your spine.
Here is how it reads: “Hey! Live in Kampala or its surroundings? Why not meet like-minded people and arrange some NSA fun? Add your e-mail address below and get it on.”
It has 284 members and some of its members’ explicit requests and posts arouse pity. It is not the only Ugandan Facebook group dedicated to sex.
Several other groups have suggestive and lewd names and have several members. There is even a mobile sex worker page. The list of these groups and pages is endless, and someone needs to report them so they are brought down.
These pages are a stark testimony of how the booming social media use in Uganda, especially Facebook, is fuelling a dangerous sexual revolution among the youth.
Unfortunately, the internet is an uncontrollable monster and even though Facebook and other social networks have a strict policy against lewd content, pornography and sexual content is still posted unabated. Because of social networks, more youth are so exposed to lots of sex, more so unprotected sex!
That aside, to the individual, Facebook has broken the boundaries of traditional relationships. It is slowly becoming acceptable for people to share everything with strangers online and feel like they know them very well when they finally do get to meet.
“Facebook makes one believe that they’ve known the other person for a longtime. It gives you an insight in their day-to-day lives and since you chat before actual meeting, there is a sense of trust and emotional bond you build between yourselves,” says Joy Tushabe, a third-year Makerere University student.
Indeed, a new relationship on Facebook starts as easily as sending a friend request and enables one to communicate swiftly and with little limitations or hurdles that physical encounters may present, so by the time you meet, you have already by-passed the hard bits.
Youth, who make the biggest population of Ugandans on social media, are increasingly using the above mentioned pages and groups to recruit sexual partners, a move that ought to be stopped, but how?
“I know a groupie friend of mine who gets sexual partners from Facebook. She looks for hot celebrities and hooks up with them for sex,” Pam, a student and frequent Facebook user, says.
For his part, James had this to say: “I have hooked up with six random girls on Facebook. The fact is Facebook is facilitating sex. It has made it a bit of a smooth sail,” he confesses.
Kahuma, a recent graduate who also prefers anonymity because of the gravity of the matter, admits to recruiting a few sexual partners from social networks. “Yes, I have hooked up with someone on Facebook, but it was just for chao (Kampala slang for sex). It never was anything serious,” he says.