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Togo sex strike: a wise stance?

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Demanding that President Faure Gnassingbe stands down, opposition group Let’s Save Togo have called for women to hold a sex strike. But is this a good idea?

Leader Isabelle Ameganvi hopes that the strike will motivate Togo’s men to challenge the regime, telling the BBC: “We have many means to oblige men to understand what women want in Togo.”

Gnassingbe has been in power since 2005 with his father previously ruling for 38 years. His re-election in 2010 sparked protests with claims that rival Jean-Pierre Fabre rightfully won the poll suggesting ballot fixing took place.

However could the strike have negative consequences? Fabre himself said that the one week strike should be shorter, “only two days” he joked. There lies the risk that it’ll worsen the conflict, doing more harm than good - although sex strikes have been overwhelmingly successful elsewhere, such as Pereira, Colombia. The women of the town carried out their own strike in protest against the high proportion of men involved in gangs with the strike leading to a 26% decrease in the crime level. 

Amegavani cited the 2003 sex strike in fellow West African country Liberia, where Leymah Gbowee brought together a multi-faith group of women to carry a strike to bring an end to the Civil War, as an inspiration. As a result President Charles Taylor, who met with Gbowee for peace talks, was exiled and Africa’s first female head of state Ellen Johnson Sirleaf assumed the position. Taylor has since been sentenced for 50 years for war crimes.

If this was achieved by a sex strike then there is great hope for Amegavani, even if it does not result in Gnassingbe’s resignation it shows that Togolese women want to have explicit involvement in the country’s politics and has reignited conversation over the legitimacy of the presidency. 

 

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