Women's 'sex strike' a global phenom

Posted at 09/16/2011 6:35 PM | Updated as of 09/17/2011 12:44 AM
Women ended armed clashes in 2 Mindanao villages by not having sex with their husbands unless the men laid down their weapons, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - A collective "sex strike" launched by women in Dado, Maguindanao, to bring peace to the troubled village and nearby communities is not the first of its kind in the world.

It has its roots in Greek playwright Aristophanes' "Lysistrata."

In the play, the female characters led by Lysistrata withheld sex from their husbands as part of their strategy to secure peace and end the Peloponnesian War.

In February 2011, Belgian Senator Marleen Temmerman proposed a sex strike to break the political deadlock in the government's formation.

"I call on the spouses of all negotiators to withhold sex until a deal is reached," she said, according to the Guardian.

In 2009, women's activist groups in Kenya enforced a week-long sex ban on their partners to protest the infighting plaguing the nation's government, the BBC reported.

The women asked prostitutes, as well as the wives of the Kenyan president and the prime minister, to join the protest.

In 2006, wives and girlfriends of gang members in Colombia launched a sex strike called "La huelga de las piernas cruzadas" (the strike of crossed legs) in response to the 480 killings in the city of Pereira. 

The city mayor supported the campaign, which reportedly resulted in a 26.5% drop in the the murder rate in Pereira last year.

Another sex strike launched by women in Colombia in June 2011 demanded a paved road to a small town in Barbacoas province.

Similar sex strikes have also been launched in Naples, Italy in 2008, as well as Liberia in 2003.

'Sex strike' ends clan conflicts

The women's "sex strike" held in July in Dado village in Mindanao helped end tensions and bring some prosperity to the 102 families living there, said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) national officer Rico Salcedo.

"The area is in a town which is subject to conflict, family feuds, land disputes. The idea came personally from the women," Salcedo told AFP.

The idea was conceived by a group of women who had set up a sewing business but found that they could not deliver their products because the village road was closed by the threat of violence, Salcedo said.

Sporadic shooting incidents between men in the village had occurred especially near the road, the UNHCR said.

"There had been a string of clan conflicts. You would have a number of men who would go against another family. There were scattered incidents of shooting at each other," said UNHCR staffer Tom Temprosa.

The sewing group's leader, Hasna Kandatu, said they warned their husbands they would be cut off from sex if they continued causing trouble.

"If you go there (to fight), you won't be able to come back. I won't accept you," Kandatu recalled telling her husband, in a video on the UNHCR website.

Her husband, Lengs Kupong, recalled his wife telling him: "If you do bad things, you will be cut off, here," he said, motioning below his waist.

Feuds between Muslim clans over land, money or political influence have been a major source of violence in the southern Philippines, helping fuel a Muslim separatist insurgency and brutal crimes, rights groups and scholars have said.

In the worst case of such feuds, members of an influential Muslim clan are being tried for allegedly murdering 57 people in the south in 2009 to keep a rival family from challenging them in local elections. - with a report from Agence France-Presse