Not so much. Last week women’s organizers in Kenya decided to go on a sex strike to ply their husbands into ending political divisions.
via the Root.
The Women’s Development Organization spearheaded a weeklong strike in which they called on Kenyan women to withhold sex from their husbands and lovers until they put an end to the political divisions that threaten to destroy the Grand Coalition Government of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The act of conjugal disobedience was straight from the pages of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. The women involved even paid prostitutes not to ply their trade during the seven-day holdout.
As author Lisa Crooms concludes, if only it were that simple. Rape has consistently been used as a weapon of war in Kenya by British soldiers and gang rape has become commonplace. Despite seeming like a creative organizing effort, the implications are not good.
Kenya has also been a country in which gang rape has been part of the violence the sex strikers are trying to force their men to end. Add to this politically exacerbated sexual violence, claims of widespread rape of primarily Samburu and Maasai women by British soldiers. Add those who have been raped and sexually assaulted Somali refugees in Kenya, as well as women and men in Kenya’s western Mt. Elgon district near the Ugandan border who have been violated by members of the Sabaot Land Defense Force. Underscoring the widespread link between sex and conflict are the thriving illegal sex trade and its accompanying trafficking of women and girls, the continued refusal to criminalize marital rape, and the sexual abuse, violence, coercion and discrimination that render Kenyan women and girls particularly vulnerable to being infected with HIV/AIDS, and a sex strike seems like a dangerously futile means of coercion.
The proposed sex strike does little to change the way that Kenyan women are viewed and valued in both the public and the private spheres where women are disempowered and largely absent from public positions of power.
I think what it does show is that Kenyan women are acting on the fact that their sexuality is being controlled by state and parochial power, it is just a matter of having the means to organize effectively. It is a sad state of affairs that they are trying to leverage their own bodies and that it is considered laughable since their person hood is not even recognized, let alone their right to consent to sex. Ugh.