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Rock the Vote: Zimbabwe Women Call for Sex Strike Until Men Register

Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Zimbabwe’s minister of Regional Integration and International Cooperation is spearheading a campaign to get her nation’s men to vote in the upcoming July 31 election.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga’s strategy is rather straight forward, she is urging Zimbabwean women to deny their partners sex until they register to vote.

“You are basically saying to your partners, we are all suffering the same way.  We need to make a difference.  I am not asking you to go to war.  I am asking you to go and vote,” said Misihairabwi-Mushonga. “You have a responsibility.  For years, we have seen that the majority of people that go to register to vote have been women. And this call is to say, we as women can’t be taking this struggle alone.  We need to take our men on board.  And if we can’t bring them on board by talking to them nicely, we will deny them something that we know they certainly would want. ”

While a sex strike is an unusual political tool, it is not unprecedented.  Misihairabwi-Mushonga herself noted: “This is not a revolutionary concept that I am coming up with. It is a concept that has been used the world over.”

In fact, women withholding sex to socio-political end can be traced back to ancient Greece: in Aristophanes’ play “Lysistrata,” the women of Athens withhold sex from men until they end the Peloponnesian War.

More recently, in 2003, women in Liberia launched a sex strike that — alongside sit-ins and nonviolent demonstrations — contributed to an end to the country’s 14-year-old civil war.

Their actions inspired Togolese women who, one decade later, held a sex strike in protest of the ruling family’s four-decade grip on power. Though unsuccessful, the maneuver nonetheless garnered the small, oft over-looked African nation needed media attention. (Similar calls for sex strikes — albeit tongue-in-cheek ones — have recently cropped up in Europe and the United States.) –

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