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woman behind Zimbabwe's no-vote-no-sex campaign
Kunene, Radio Netherlands
July 10, 2013
voter registration closed yesterday, one can’t help but wonder
if the country's recent sex boycott also came to a happy ending.
Our correspondent caught up with the woman behind the no-vote-no-sex
campaign, MDC minister Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga.
Over the past
couple weeks, Mushonga has urged women to deny men their conjugal
rights as a way to force them to register as voters and then to
cast their actual votes
on election day, 31 July. The controversial though popular Zimbabwean
minister for regional integration and international cooperation
had called for a sex ban at a campaign rally in Ndebele-speaking
RNW spoke with
Mushonga, who also serves as the powerful secretary-general of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction led by Welshman Ncube,
to ask why she called the boycott.
have failed to play their role to bring about change in the country.
It has always been women who have been going to register to vote
and we, as women, have decided to take up the challenge to change
the political status quo in Zimbabwe,” she said, while leaving
a church service in Bulawayo. “We can fight as women, but
we also need men on board because they are the missing link in the
struggle for change.”
Mushonga, women tried their best to reason with men, but they were
not listening. This is why they decided to hit them where it hurts
most in the bedroom, by denying them what they love most. And there
would have to be proof: no voter registration slip, no sex.
politician became a widow in 2011 when her husband, a surgeon, died
of injuries sustained during a robbery at their house.
Mushonga said her call for a sex boycott in Zimbabwe received widespread
support among women. Most of the women who spoke to RNW confirmed
a secretary at a local company, noted that men are lazy and don’t
want to be part of change. She added that it’s always women
who go and register to vote, while men spend their time drinking
men had warned Mushonga not to ‘corrupt’ their wives
and threatened severe consequences.
wife takes part in this sex strike nonsense, that’s the end
of our marriage. I paid lobola so that I enjoy everything that comes
with it including my conjugal rights,” fumed Bekezela Ndlovu,
a resident of Magwegwe township in Bulawayo.
leader in Hwange, 270 kilometres north-west of Bulawayo where the
minister called for a sex boycott, told RNW by phone that he would
not entertain any reports from women claiming to have been beaten
by their husbands for taking part in the sex strike.
former teacher Gilbert Sibanda: “The minister can’t
use sex as a weapon to force us to go and vote. Some of us have
lost interest in voting because we have failed to remove Robert
Mugabe through the ballot.”
RNW that she was inspired by similar boycotts in countries, such
as Sierra Leone, Liberia and Kenya.
should focus on the message rather than the sex issues. Our message
is for change in this country,” she said.
end it should become clear whether Zimbabwean men – and women
– have gotten the message.
activists aren’t the first to apply this approach to solving
In 2009, women
groups in Kenya called for a one-week nationwide sex boycott to
force feuding male politicians in the coalition government to resolve
their differences. For the campaign’s increased efficacy,
Kenyan activists even offered to pay sex workers to suspend their
In 2003, the
women of Liberia organized a non-violent protest that included a
sex boycott. The women’s actions ultimately led to peace,
ending a 14-year-old civil war.
In 2006, wives
and girlfriends of Colombian drug barons embarked on a sex boycott
which became known as the ‘strike of crossed legs’.
The movement aimed to end gang- and drug-related killings.
Kunene as published by RNW Africa Desk (www.rnw.nl/Africa)
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