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Moral Panic

Moral Panic

(p.139) Chapter Twelve: Moral Panic
Worries of the Heart
University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes moral panic in western Kenya. Fears of the supposed waywardness of young women had started to circulate widely among African men. The “symptoms” of waywardness presented fed into a generalized apprehension over the immorality of women in western Kenya during World War II. The anxiety over young women was particularly distressing to many widowed mothers. Throughout the early 1940s, as this anxiety increased, a number of Local Native Council (LNC) meetings were devoted to figuring out ways to control them. As talk of increased sexual activity among youth began to infiltrate Maragoli homesteads and the offices of the LNC, colonial officials began to worry about the spread of venereal disease. The rumors of “wayward” women soon began to reach men in the King's African Rifle (KAR), even in places as far away as Burma and Palestine.

Keywords:   sexual activity, moral panic, Maragoli, waywardness, young women, western Kenya, World War II, venereal disease

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