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Women declare sex boycott to end violence

G10 a consortium of women lobbies announced a week-long sex boycott to push for political reforms, and have secured support from a prominent personality in the land. Prime Minister Raila Odinga's wife, Ida, said she would support the campaign "100 per cent".

Published on 30/04/2009

Sex, money and power are said to make the world go round, especially when dealing with politicians who take people round in circles until they feel dizzy.

Now, women in Kenya have joined hands to boycott sex for the next seven days to push for reforms and constitutional review.

Beginning today, G10 a consortium of women lobbies announced a week-long sex boycott to push for political reforms, and have secured support from a prominent personality in the land.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga's wife, Ida, said she would support the campaign "100 per cent".

"The women's voices must be heard," Mrs Odinga said, adding: "The boycott is not a punishment, but rather an action to draw attention to the issue."

During a Press briefing in Nairobi on Wednesday, G10 said they had spoken to Ida and First Lady Lucy Kibaki and urged them to support their cause.

G10 coalition partner Rukia Subow of Maendeleo ya Wanawake said violence was escalating, people were dying of hunger and that majority of those affected are women. They must do something.

"This boycott shows how women have come to the conclusion that there is no solution being sought to end the political impasse. And while the two principals (Kibaki and Raila) haggle, the country has been thrown into confusion," said Ms Subow.

But Kenya's menfolk need not bother try doing anything. Those accustomed to securing "take-away", the euphemism for twilight girls, be warned: They will not be in business, as the girls will be paid by G10 for "staying away from work".

G10 officials did not explain how they would monitor the success of their campaign, or how to ensure those paid to keep off the streets actually do that. They will rely on goodwill and integrity of their supporters.

Extraordinary situations

Ms Patricia Nyaudi, the executive director of the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida), a part of G10, said: "These are serious issues and should not be trivialised. The idea is to deny ourselves what we consider essential for the good of our country."

Ms Carole Ageng'o, the executive director of Tomorrow's Child Initiative, another G10 member, said: "Indeed, extraordinary situations call for extraordinary measures and the G10 calls upon women of Kenya to go on a sex boycott to protest at the poor leadership and to demand that the two principals take control and lead the country to its desired destiny."

In their statement, the G10 members said while the two principals engage in power games, the country risked plunging into anarchy as hostilities between their supporters were renewed by the bickering over positions.

Ms Anne Njogu, the executive director of Centre for Rights Education and Awareness, said House Speaker Kenneth Marende had failed to make a strong decision and opted for a "safe" exit over the wrangles.

"The Speaker, yet again, missed the opportunity to show political leadership and instead chose to run away from his mandate by making a safe decision at a time the country needs tough decisive action," Njogu said of Mr Marende's decision on Tuesday to step in as temporary chair of the Leader of Government Business.

The G10 coalition said Marende's ruling only served to provide temporary reprieve and soon the two principals will resort to more power games.

The women called on Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka to refuse to be used as a point of conflict between the two principals.

"The National Accord is a marriage between two partners and the introduction of a third party is mischievous, suspicious and meant to rock the partnership," said Njogu.

The G10 coalition demands that the two principals show responsible leadership and commitment to the National Accord and reconciliation. To that regard, they will in the next seven days draft performance contracts for the two principals and present them for signature.

War-mongering husbands

"Should either of the two leaders fail to sign, it will be confirmation of the lack of commitment, bad faith and contempt for the people of Kenya," they said.

Sex boycott is not an entirely new concept, having been used by European and North American women opposed to war in Iraq in 2003.

Thousands of actresses all over the world took part in a reading of the ancient Greek play, Lysistrata, as part of a protest against the war as they refrained from sex.

The play, written by Aristophanes in 415 BC, features Greek women who, fed up with their warmongering husbands, go on a sex strike in a bid to end the endless conflicts.

Eventually, the menfolk succumb and agree to a truce.

Last December, hundreds of Italian women pledged to go without sex unless their men promised to refrain from setting off dangerous illegal fireworks.

But if female sexuality has been used to make political statements, it has also been exploited to wrench power from women, as happened in the Gikuyu traditional society at the turn of the 20th Century.

Then, the menfolk impregnated their wives while their leader, Wangu wa Makeeri, was tricked into displaying her nakedness as she danced under the moon. This marked her downfall.