Sexuality

In indigenous Luyia society, sexuality was regarded as healthy and natural. Fathers' sisters (senge) and grandmothers instructed youth in sexual matters, which could not be discussed with parents. Premarital sex play (but not intercourse) was allowed. A bride was expected to be a virgin and her family was rewarded for her virginity, though there seems to have been no lasting stigma for a pregnant bride. Christian missionaries demanded the covering of bodies with voluminous clothing and condemned any sexual activity among unmarried youth, probably contributing to today's attitude that even holding hands or a brief kiss in public is tantamount to having intercourse. Today modesty demands that genitals be covered and also women's breasts (except when a mother is breastfeeding her baby), but not arms and legs (except for upper thighs). It is, in fact, a terrible curse for a woman to expose her genitals deliberately.

In the latter 20th century sexual controls loosened considerably, at least in part because of the erosion of the roles of grandmothers and fathers' sisters as instructors in sexual behavior and the increased vulnerability of schoolgirls, especially those in boarding schools who are away from family control for long periods. Premarital pregnancies are common, bringing problems to the girls (stigma, dismissal from school, family conflict) but not to the boys or men who impregnated them. Wives are expected to satisfy their husbands' sexual needs, but not vice versa. Women are also expected to be faithful to husbands, and many are, but men engage in much extramarital sex—no doubt a factor in the current AIDS epidemic. Clearly there is a "double standard" regarding sexuality. Asked about homosexuality, most people say nothing or insist that homosexuals are found "only in Mombasa."

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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