Just, what's the value of virginity?

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What you need to know:

  • According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics report on Demographic and Health Survey 2022, 19 per cent of women had sex with a person who was neither their husband nor lived with them
  • 35 per cent of men reported having sex in the last 12 months with a person who was neither their wife nor lived with them
  • We examine the shifts in societal expectations and the impact they have had on young people.

‘Popping the cherry,’ as some in the current generation refer to giving up one’s virginity, is a topic that remains taboo even in the 21st century. 

Some avoid talking about it because of the shame associated with talking about sex, while others avoid it due to the stereotypes surrounding the topic. However, there are those who believe in and advocate for engaging in sexual intimacy at an early age. This category of individuals believes that virginity is an outdated concept, and that knowledge of one’s body and that of their partner is power.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics report on Demographic and Health Survey 2022, 19 per cent of women had sex with a person who neither was their husband nor lived with them and 35 per cent of men reported having sex in the last 12 months with a person who neither was their wife nor lived with them. This shows how sexually active people are in Kenya.

Today, we explore the fascinating and evolving attitudes of the young generation towards the concept of virginity. We examine the shifts in societal expectations and the impact they have had on young people.

Photo credit: Pool

Eunice Awino Odhiambo, 28
Data analyst and fashion designer

I proudly uphold the sanctity of virginity and I believe it is a topic that should be embraced among today’s youth. Breaking my virginity on my wedding night was a decision I made early in my life, and it was a choice guided by my personal beliefs and teachings from my home pastor.

From a young age, I understood the importance of preserving my virginity. My pastor’s teachings resonated deeply with me. He continually emphasised to us (youth) the significance of not “popping our cherry” at an early age.

These teachings became a guiding force in my life, and as I grew in faith, I became an advocate for this topic, enlightening my fellow youth about the value of waiting.

I would not say I never underwent challenges while waiting, especially in this era where virginity is often seen as outdated.

At some point, I faced societal pressures and temptations.

However, I remained steadfast in my faith, recognising that virginity is more than just a physical state—it is a symbolic wall and gate that leads from singlehood to marriage.

When I finally got married, I experienced a mix of physical pain and emotional fulfillment on my wedding night. The journey of preserving myself for all those years had not been easy, but that very day, I felt a sense of dignity and fulfillment.

Despite the prevailing notion that virginity is old-fashioned, I knew I had made the right choice in waiting. Just to emphasise, virginity represents purity, not just in a sexual context but in all aspects of life. It is a reflection of my commitment to remain faithful and true, not only to my spouse but also to my values and principles. Even after marriage, I believe in the importance of maintaining purity and faithfulness to one’s partner.

Photo credit: Pool

Chadwink Ochieng, 30
Medical doctor

This is a very interesting topic considering the times we are in. I personally have a strong belief in the holiness of virginity. For me, virginity is not just a personal choice. I view it as a precious gift from God that should be preserved.

This belief is strongly supported by the Holy Book – the Bible. I firmly believe that sex is a sacred act created by God to be enjoyed within the confines of marriage. Anything that deviates from this definition, such as premarital or extramarital sex, I view it as a perversion.

I find guidance in 1st Corinthians 6:8-9, which says, “Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” This verse emphasises the importance of avoiding sexual immorality and adultery.

To add, a recent scientific research by the Journal of Family Issues indicated that couples who cohabit or engage in premarital sex before marriage are at greater risk of divorce, and report a lower level of dedication to the relationship, which increases the risk of a single-parent household if a child is involved.

This research underscores the potential dangers and negative outcomes associated with premarital sexual activity. I will not shy away from saying that virginity is not something to be given away casually or explored with multiple partners.

I believe in waiting for the right time and reserving that special gift for the person you intend to spend your life with. For me, virginity represents dedication, commitment, and faithfulness to one’s future spouse. Don’t explore, wait for the right time!

Photo credit: Pool

Charity Phoebe Kilei, 26

This is a difficult topic to discuss in today’s society. Stereotypes and judgment surround the concept, making it a tough subject to tackle. I have had harsh experiences trying to explain myself to people close to me about my state. Instead of understanding or accepting my choice, I faced criticism and judgment.

This left me emotionally shaken and hesitant to speak openly about this. It seems that in this modern generation, one’s virginity or lack thereof attracts labels, scrutiny and judgement based on external factors such as appearance and lifestyle choices.

However, as a Christian, I firmly believe that one should preserve their virginity until marriage. To me, virginity is a precious and valuable aspect of a person’s life that should be protected. I believe that God created sex to provide a sacred bond between a husband and wife, and therefore deviating from this path can lead to sins of fornication or adultery.

My conviction stems from my faith and personal values. Despite the challenges and criticism I have faced regarding my stand, I remain committed to my principles. My decision to wait until marriage before engaging in sexual intimacy is informed by my Christian values and the importance I place on maintaining purity.

In a society that often dismisses or downplays the significance of virginity, I believe that personal choices should be respected and valued regardless of societal trends and the pressure to conform.

Photo credit: Pool

Elvis Ochieng, 22
Casual labourer

Driven by curiosity, I made a decision that I still regret. The emptiness I felt afterward served as a powerful lesson which led me on a journey of self-reflection and healing.

In hindsight, I acknowledge that I was not emotionally prepared for the consequences of my actions. The rush and curiosity that initially motivated me to engage in sexual activities at the age of 19 have been replaced by a deep sense of regret.

It was much later that I began to understand the importance of emotional intelligence and genuine connections when it comes to intimate relationships. However, through self-reflection and forgiveness, I have embarked on a path of healing.

I recognise that true maturity lies in being emotionally aware and understanding the consequences of my choices. The experience has taught me to be cautious and patient when it comes to matters of intimacy and relationships.

Initially, I believed that engaging in sexual activity before marriage was normal. However, I discovered that once the barrier of virginity is broken, the body seems to crave more and more.

This realisation puts me in a difficult position where I have to grapple with the demands of my own body as well as the emotional consequences. Drawing from my personal experience, I encourage my fellow youth to exercise caution and wait for the right time.

It is OK to strongly resist the pressure and curiosity that can lead to impulsive decisions. It is indeed an honorable thing to wait for the right partner.

Marceline Dera, 25
Sales professional

I am a professional working in the field of marketing. I come from a diverse cultural background, and I have had the opportunity to explore different perspectives on various topics, including sexuality.

For me, the concept of virginity is rooted in outdated and patriarchal notions that place too much emphasis on a woman's sexuality.

It perpetuates the idea that a woman's worth is tied to her sexual purity, which I strongly disagree with. I believe that a person's worth should never be determined by their sexual experience or lack thereof.

Growing up, I questioned the societal pressures and expectations placed on women regarding their sexuality. I found it unfair that men were often exempt from these judgments, while women were expected to conform to certain ideals.

This led me to question why virginity was given such significance and why it was considered an important aspect of a person's identity.

As I educated myself further on gender equality and human rights, I began to challenge the narrative around virginity. I realised that it was just a social construct that served to control and limit women's choices and autonomy.

I firmly believe that individuals should have the freedom to make their own decisions regarding their bodies and sexuality without judgment or societal expectations.

My beliefs have allowed me to approach relationships with a sense of openness and honesty. I prioritise open communication, consent, and mutual respect in all my intimate connections.

I believe that sexual experiences should be consensual, pleasurable, and free from shame or guilt. By embracing a sex-positive mindset, I have been able to explore my own desires and preferences without feeling constrained by societal norms.

This has empowered me to make informed decisions about my own body and engage in healthy, fulfilling relationships based on mutual understanding and consent.

I think we should foster a culture of inclusivity and acceptance, recognising that every person's journey is unique and valid. It is time to redefine our understanding of worth and celebrate the diversity of human experiences without judgment or prejudice.

Expert view

According to Dr. Wachira Murage, a Gynecologist at Savannah Healthcare Upper Hill Nairobi, it is highly important for young people to guard their virginity. He explains that once a person breaks their virginity, they open up themselves to sexual diseases such as infections, abnormal discharges and genital smells.

“I advise the youth not to expose themselves to sexual activities at an early age. Once you break that wall, you open up yourself to multiple sexual partners,” Dr Murage told MyNetwork.

Some of the sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) include chlamydia (a bacterial infection that is common among sexually active young people), gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes, acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids), hepatitis B (HBV), genital warts and trichomoniasis.

“This is why I caution young people against having sex before marriage. Virginity is not an old fashion tale but should be taught among our youth. Keep yourself until you get the right person,” Dr Murage added.