The female wing of a civil rights group is urging women in Togo to stage a week-long sex strike to demand the resignation of the country’s president.
Women were being asked to start withholding sex from their husbands or partners as of yesterday, said Isabelle Ameganvi, leader of the women’s wing of the group Let’s Save Togo. She said the strike is to put pressure on Togo’s men to take action against Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe.
Ameganvi, a lawyer, said her group is following the example of Liberia’s women, who used a 2003 sex strike to campaign for peace.
“We have many means to oblige men to understand what women want in Togo,” Ameganvi said.
The sex strike was announced at a rally on Saturday of several thousand in the capital city, Lome. The demonstration was organized by a coalition that is protesting recent electoral reforms, which they say will make it easier for Gnassingbe’s party to win re-election in the parliamentary polls set for October.
Gnassingbe came to power in 2005, following the death of his father, Eyadema Gnassingbe, who ruled the country for 38 years. Gnassingbe has not commented on the sex strike, nor has his wife. Earlier this month, two anti-Gnassingbe protests were dispersed by police using tear gas and more than 100 people were arrested.
At Saturday’s peaceful rally, the leader of the National Alliance for Change opposition party, Jean-Pierre Fabre, demanded Gnassingbe’s resignation while other leaders urged civil disobedience.
However, it is the sex strike that has people talking in this small country of about 6 million people.
“It’s a good thing for us women to observe this sex strike as long as our children are in jail now. I believe that by observing this, we will get them released,” Abla Tamekloe said.
When asked if her husband would agree, Tamekloe said: “It is easy for me to observe it. I am used to it, but I am not sure my husband will accept, but I have to explain to him.”
Though the call for a sex strike seemed to please many women, some men, including opposition party heads and human rights groups, did not believe it would be a success.
“One week sex strike is too much,” said Fabre amid laughter from a protest crowd. “Let’s go for only two days.”