Kenyan Man Sues Over Sex Boycott

10 05 2009

A Kenyan man has sued activists over the recent Lysistrata-like protest in which women were asked to boycott sex in protest of the growing divide in the nation’s coalition government.

Although the ban only lasted seven days, James Kimondo is claiming that the his lack of conjugal rights resulted in lack of sleep, backaches, stress, and mental anguish.  Kimondo is seeking unspecified damages from G-10, an umbrella group for woman’s activism organizations.

The ban began as a protest of the tense relationship between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. An unstable coalition government formed after post-election violence which killed more than 1,000 people in 2008. Relations between Kibaki and Odinga are increasingly tense, and many Kenyans fear that more violence is possible.

The ban called on all women, including sex workers and the wives of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga, to join the cause and withhold sex for a week.  Odinga’s wife, Ida was fully in support of the protest, stating “I will not get into what my husband thinks, but I will say leaders need to focus on the things that affect our people, and I hope the publicity from this campaign will raise awareness on those issues. ”

“We cannot allow our leaders to argue over non-issues while relegating the issues that affect this country to the back burner. When this happens, women suffer the most,” said Ann Njogu, director of Centers for Rights Education and Awareness.  The ban was meant to draw spouses into the political conversation and spur women to make political change.

Njogu is not worried about the lawsuit.  “I have not been served with the papers, but I was told they are coming and I am eagerly waiting,  It will be interesting to see the face of a man who is not willing to abstain for the sake of his country,” she said.

Njogu insists that the ban was successful despite the lawsuit:  “The principal leaders met as a result of the boycott, and I understand that they are setting up reforms to look into the country’s internal security.”

Boycotting sex appears to have terrified some power-holders enough to spur some change, and has brought the taboo topic of sex to the forefront of the discussion and politics in Kenya.  Hopefully the ridiculousness of Kimondo’s case will be realized in court.  However, his attitude about his entitlement to his wife’s body alludes to a larger global patriarchy in which women are so often treated as possessions and consent is not thought to be necessary (especially within marriage or relationships).



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