Not sure how I missed this story last week–though I’ve been quite busy between the normal end-of-the-semester routines, a Varieties of Democracy conference, celebrating my wife’s passing the CT bar, and preparing for a new baby…
Kenyan women call for sex boycott
By Parselelo Kantai in Nairobi
Published: May 1 2009 02:42 | Last updated: May 1 2009 02:42
Kenyan women’s organisations have called for a national sex boycott to force feuding male politicians in the coalition government to resolve differences.
The women said they were prepared to pay prostitutes to withhold their services for a week to make the campaign more effective.
The boycott was inspired by a feud between Mwai Kibaki, the president, and Raila Odinga, the prime minister, about who runs the government agenda in parliament. The women have sent emissaries to the wives of both men to encourage them to join the boycott which reflects intensifying public anger at the pace at which the coalition government is tackling the underlying causes of last year’s post- election crisis.
Kenya was gripped by violent ethnic protests that almost pitched the country into civil war and resulted in the deaths of some 1,500 people in the aftermath of disputed elections.
The coalition government formed to end the crisis has been beset by corruption scandals and internal feuding even as 10m Kenyans are threatened by starvation.
A survey showed that more than two-thirds of Kenyans no longer have confidence in the government.
“This is a call to mass action to protest poor leadership,” said Ms Patricia Nyaundi, executive director of the women’s organisation, FIDA. “The other option was to take to the streets with placards but we would have been clobbered by the police. So this is a protest from the safety of our homes.”
The boycott recalls Greek playwright’s Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata, about a sex boycott staged by Athenian women to end the Peloponnesian war.
“Our leaders are taking us in the wrong direction. Last year this feuding ended in violence. If this were to recur, it is the women and children who would bear the brunt,” Ms Nyaundi said
Some men interviewed for an opinion poll said they would go elsewhere for sex if their partners got involved.
NGOs involved intend to provide financial support during the boycott to sex workers, estimated at 7,000 in Nairobi’s central business district alone.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009