Abortion tops list of Kenyan online searches

Thursday December 13 2012

By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU [email protected]

Most Kenyans with access to the Internet want to know how to get an abortion, according to a new survey.

The Google Zeitgeist 2012 report released on Thursday says this was the most searched topic in the last 12 months in the country.

This could be an indication that many Kenyans are engaging in unprotected sex resulting in unplanned pregnancies.

It could also mean that there is little information in the public on terminating pregnancies and many people are turning to online sources for guidance.

Article 26(4) of the Constitution outlaws abortion on demand.

“Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law,” reads the article.

Abortion was one of the contentious issues ahead of the August 4, 2010, referendum on the Constitution.

Religious leaders used the clause providing for abortion on medical grounds to lobby followers to reject the Constitution.

The report mirrors other findings that young people are more afraid of pregnancy than contracting HIV.

Also in the top 10 of ‘how to’ trending queries is ‘how to conceive’, ‘how to seduce’, ‘how to romance’ and ‘how to invest’. There are also those who simply want to know about “ovulation”.

On diseases, the report says most Kenyans online look for information about cancer.

The fact that prominent people, including two ministers — Mrs Beth Mugo (Public Health), and Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o (Medical Services) — declared they had been diagnosed with the disease may have sparked interest in its causes and prevention.

Prof Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel peace laureate, died of ovarian cancer last year, as did paediatrician-cum-novelist Margaret Ogola.

There were also queries about ebola, malaria, typhoid, stress, HIV/Aids, nausea and autism.

Also in the most searched category was the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

This could be because it has been in the news over the procurement controversy regarding the biometric voter registration kits; and the subsequent voter registration.

For something to fit the “trending” tag, it means that the search term has had the most sustained traffic on Google over the past year — in other words, it has been talked about quite frequently.

In politics, it is the dead politicians who topped the list of searches.

Former ministers Njenga Karume, George Saitoti, and John Michuki were the most searched politicians in the last 12 months.

Karume and Michuki died of natural causes early in the year, while Prof Saitoti perished in a helicopter crash in June.

This is bad news for politicians seeking the presidency and other public offices as campaigns for the March 4 elections hot up.

It means that few people are going online to seek more information about them or their campaigns, despite some having exclusive social media sites.

Former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza and former advisor to the Prime Minister, Mr Miguna Miguna, also made it among the top 10 of the “trending” people.

Ms Baraza was forced to resign after a tribunal recommended her dismissal on claims that she assaulted a security guard.

Mr Miguna rose to notoriety after publishing an explosive book on the intrigues in the Prime Minister’s office.

The book, Peeling Back the Mask: a Quest for Justice in Kenya, was serialised exclusively in the Daily Nation in July and exposed a racket of corruption in Mr Odinga’s office.

Top global musicians Whitney Houston and James Ingram also featured in the top-ten list in Kenya.

Mr Ingram had a huge show in Kenya in September. Whitney, too, died this year. She is number one on the most “trending people” in Kenya, and also all over the world.

The passion among football fans for the English Premier League is also evident given that Manchester United striker Robin van Persie, Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli and former Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba also feature in the top 10 people on the “trending” list for Kenya.

Balotelli is, however, listed among the trending sports people.

Manchester United has a huge following in Kenya and so does Arsenal.

Van Persie moved from Arsenal to Manchester United within the year, and that caused a lot of chatter, both offline and online.

Under the top 10 sportspeople in Kenya, there is the celebrity athlete David Rudisha, who is also the world and Olympic champion.

Another Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi is also on the list and so is Celtic FC’s Victor Wanyama.

It has been a good season for Kemboi and Rudisha, and also for Wanyama.