How to stop wars or revolutions? Women have an infallible weapon: “Sex Strike.” There are so many ways of playing politics, one of the most efficacious and congenial is a sex boycott. This idea first originated 2400 years ago, when Aristophanes, Greek play writer, in one of his comedies, narrates how Lysistrata, an extraordinary woman, managed to persuade, women, young and old from various city states of Greece, to abstain from sex with their husbands and lovers in order to force them to forge a truce with their rivals from Sparta, and thus bring an end to the Peloponnesian War, 431-404 A.C.
Even today, according to Michael Norton, the strategy of sex strike is quite effective. In his book of “365 Ways to Change the World” he puts it in the 14th place for its effectiveness.
In 1992 women in Poland used this strategy quite successfully. In this very catholic country contraception was prohibited, thus the only way to control the birth of a baby was abortion. But as soon as the newly elected Prime Minister, Hanna Suchacka, made abortion illegal, Polish women answered with a sex strike. Consequently the number of births went down causing the fall of the catholic government.
In Colombia, in October 1997, the chief of the military publicly called for a sex strike among the wives and girlfriends of the Colombian left-wing guerrillas, drug traffickers and paramilitaries as a strategy to achieve a ceasefire. The guerrillas ridiculed the initiative since they had 2000 women in their army. In the end the ceasefire was achieved, but lasted only a short time.
In September 2006, wives and girlfriends of gang members, from Pereira, Colombia, started a sex strike called “La huelga de las piernas cruzadas” (the strike of the crossed legs) to curb gang violence and to force gang members to hand in their guns with the motto “Violence is not sexy”. In 2010 the murder rate in Colombia went down 26.5%
In 2001 in Sirt a Turkish village with 600 inhabitants, near Antalya, because of a broken aqueduct, women had to walk 16 Km in order to fetch water home. Islamic religion requires a bath after a sexual relation, “but if we can bathe nor wash our clothes then we can’t have sex “, this was the message sent to their husbands. After three weeks of abstinence, the local government installed 8 Km of a new pipeline.
In 2002, in Sudan, women from various clans started a sex strike hoping to put an end to a civil war that had been going on for 19 years.
In 2003 was the turn of the women of Aghem, in the North East of Camerun, who refused to have sex and to cook for their families for 3 months. They went back to their fields only when the wife of their chief guaranteed them a solution.
The same happened in Liberia, when Charles Taylor with a coup d’état named himself President, thousands of women, to stop a civil war, all dressed in white protested through the streets. They soon started a sex strike until a new democratic election gave them, in 2005, a woman president, the first woman in Africa.
In 2008 there was a sex strike, in Naples, Italy, over firework. Hundreds of women pledged to abstain from sex with their men unless they refrained from setting off dangerous and illegal firework on New Year’s Eve. In the past these fireworks caused many injuries. In fact, the leader of this movement, Mrs. Staiano, had spent her entire life taking care of her father, who was left partially paralyzed after a firework exploded next to him at a previous New Year’s Eve celebration. Local authorities backed the women and sent out text messages urging men “to make love, not explosions.”
In 2009 there was a similar case in Kenya. This time even the wife of the President and the wife of the Prime Minister joined the protesters. Abstinence from sex forced the 2 litigants to talk peace.
More recently, March 22/10 a feminist movement in the Ukraine, Femen Ukrainian, called on wives and lovers of members of government to castigate their husbands with a sex boycott to protest against sexual exploitation and discrimination of Ukrainian women. This non violent and legitimate form of protest was a reaction to the Prime Minister’s explanation that the lack of women ministers was due to the fact that women are unfit to carry out government reforms as they are unable to say no. To add insult to injury, the President stated that the place of women is in the kitchen and not in politics.
All these sex strike movements seem to have been inspired, to some degree, by the Greek play, Lysistrata