Television

BBC Swahili launches website that 'speaks boldly' about sex

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MUMBAI: BBC Swahili and the BBC's international charity, BBC World Service Trust, have launched a Swahili language website. It aims to break down taboos and myths around sex and sexuality and reach a wider, younger audience. It is available at bbcswahili.com.

The site called Kimasomaso, which means "speak boldly", is named after the award winning BBC Swahili magazine radio programme and features the latest edition of the radio programme together with in-depth features, personal stories and advice.

At the heart of Kimasomaso are the voices of young diarists who share their personal experiences through their audio diaries which are also available online. Visitors can take a journey with a pregnant teenager or a young person going through the process of having an HIV test to discover how they cope with their everyday lives, how they come to the decisions they make and how they see their future.

Other topics range from violence against women and the influence of rap music on young people to how to use a condom and how communities are preparing young girls for marriage. A glossary on sexual and reproductive health for young people can also be found on the site.

The BBC commissioned African illustrator Tayo Fatunla to give Kimasomaso online a young, contemporary feel. He is an experienced artist with a portfolio of work for national newspapers and magazines in Africa and the UK.

BBC Swahili Service head Tido Mhando said,"By uniting our radio programme with the trust's online site we can further widen our access to young audiences. Talking openly about sexual health remains a taboo in East Africa but this way we hope to help young people make sensible life decisions."

BBC World Service Trust projects manager Keith Ricketts added, "Kimasomaso online is the perfect medium for reaching young people in East Africa who cannot tune into the radio programme but need and want this vital, potentially life-saving information. Now they can hear the programme and read the accompanying features in their own time and, most importantly, in their own language."

Kimasomaso was awarded a silver medal at the New York Festivals Radio Programming and Promotion competition in 2004. The programme was judged on its production values, organisation, presentation of information, creativity and use of the medium.

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