Women in Togo are holding a week-long “sex strike” to bring democracy to their country.
President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe's family has ruled Togo for 40 years, recently rewrote the constitution to ensure their grip on power – and tear gassed and jailed 100 democracy activists who protested. This was the last straw for the Let’s Save Togo opposition alliance, who say their apathetic fellow citizens need a wake-up call. And what better way?
Sex strikes, a glorious history of ...
How does it work as a tactic? The first known sex strike occurred in ancient Athens, when Lysistrata formed a coalition of women from different Greek cities who denied sex to their men until they abandoned war. It worked – and her feat of diplomacy and inventive activism was made famous in Aristophanes' comedy Lysistrata (which means "army disbander"), first performed in 411BC.
In modern times, sex strikes have often been called to stop conflict – with some success. Twice in recent times women of Colombia have called for a huelga de las piernas cruzadas (strike of crossed legs) to try and curb violence brought about by drug wars and gangs.
In 2009 Kenyan women threatened a sex strike – and promised to pay prostitutes not to work – if politicians did not stop arguing. And many believe a sex strike in Liberia in 2003 played a part in bringing the civil war to an end and ensuring the election of Africa's first and only elected female president to date: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Of course, a sex strike is only one piece of the puzzle – but at least it's something most people can do, and carries minimal risk. What other old or new tricks could people pull out of the bag to stop war or end dictatorship? Let us know in the comments below – or start your own petition on our community petitions site and make it happen!