KENYA: Women declare sex boycott

By Susan Anyangu
no_sex.jpgSex, 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.

The Standard

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