Kenyan Women Pull The Old "No Peace, No Sex" Gambit

Will a week-long, sex strike among Kenyan women forestall bloodshed in the East African country?

Following Liberia's example, Kenya's Women's Development Organization has called for women to go on sex strike in protest of government unrest, hoping to forestall the bloodshed that wracked the country after last year's elections. Recently bickering has threatened the fragile coalition that formed only after 1,000 people were killed in power struggles. A statement, quoted by the AP, declares, "The women of this country will not ... allow its political leadership to lead it back onto a slippery journey to ... violence and absolute chaos." They hope the week-long strike will result in talks between warring factions.

Says WDO's chairwoman, "We have looked at all issues which can bring people to talk and we have seen that sex is the answer...It does not know tribe, it does not have a (political) party and it happens in the lowest households." Adds Patricia Nyaundi, executive director of the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida), to VOA, "Great decisions are made during pillow talk, so we are asking the two ladies at that intimate moment to ask their husbands: 'Darling can you do something for Kenya?'" Eleven women's groups are participating in the strike, which adds up to several thousand women. The group says they are paying prostitutes to strike, too. The movement got a boost when the Prime Minister's wife, Ida Odinga, joined the strike yesterday, saying, according to UPI, "If some women have decided, we have all decided."

Not shockingly, in a country in which polygamy is still legal, the strike's meeting with resistance. According to the BBC, "Our correspondent says some would argue that Kenyan men cannot even abstain for two days. Kenyan legislator David Musila told VOA,

It is a shame. It is a shame that these women can make such a statement. First of all, in my view, it is un-African, and these are some of the things in Africa we don't talk openly about, sex in front of children, and so on. And therefore, I think they are misguided and in any case, who is going to supervise and see that the boycott is implemented? It is just rubbish."

The morality argument is not limited to men; says the vice chairwoman of Maendeleo ya Wanawake, Rahab Muiu "As the largest women's organization in the country, we strongly believe in family values and cannot be associated with such foul utterances which can only break families,"

We imagine plenty of feminists could find the strike problematic for very different reasons. What's one thing in Lysistrata is quite another in 2009 - but then, so is polygamy and disenfranchisement. As Anna put it to me, "If it works, well, that's good. But it makes me sad for mankind - with an emphasis on man."

Kenyan Legislator Calls Women's Sex Strike Threat Reprehensible [VOA]
Kenyan Women Hit Men With Sex Ban [BBC]
Kenyan Sex Strikers Protest Political Strife [NBC]
Wife Of Kenyan PM Joins Sex Strike [UPI]