By: Kenya Today and agencies
A Togolese opposition leader is calling on women to go on a weeklong sex strike to press for release of protesters detained by government security forces.
The Togolese Police is reported to have arrested more than 120 opposition members last week as they clashed with protestors in the capital Lome.
Demonstrators had taken to the streets in Togo’s capital, Lome, for several days protesting new electoral reforms.
Sex strikes have become a common way of civil disobedience in recent years, in mid 2009, Kenyaâ€™s leading female Civil Society activists drew world attention when they called upon Kenyan women to go on a weeklong sex strike; the strike was aimed at ending the stalemate the government was experiencing due to continued wrangling in the coalition government.
The arrested were among the demonstrators who had taken to the streets in the capital, Lome, last week protesting new electoral reforms which they say favor the ruling party ahead of October’s parliamentary elections. They are seeking a repeal of changes to the electoral laws.
Government officials said all but eight had been released, and those still detained were in possession of knives and other crude weapons.
The female opposition leader called for sex strikes starting this Monday through Sunday.
“I am inviting all women to observe a one-week sex strike, fasting and prayers to set our arrested brothers and husbands free,” said Isabelle Ameganvi, leader of the opposition Let’s Save Togo. “So all you ladies have to keep the gate of your ‘motherland’ locked up to all men from Monday up to Sunday.”
The opposition leader said she was following the footsteps of the current Liberian President and Nobel laureate Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who called for a sex strike in 2003 as a form of civil disobedience amid raging war.
Last year, a group of women in Philippines staged a sex strike demanding that the men quit fighting. The strike helped end the fighting between villages in rural Mindanao Island.
“We have power to change things. We do not want to remain in the kitchen, but we can have our say in politics,” Ameganvi said. “We cannot stay hand-crossed, as our children and husbands are being kept in jail.”
In addition to the sex strike, she called on women to wear a special color during a demonstration Thursday.
“You all have to be dressed up in red pants to show your anger,” she said, amid cheers.
The actions will be among a series of civil disobedience events planned.
“If our people are not released by Thursday, the women are going to rush to the prison naked to get them released, only in red pants and nothing else,” she said.
The security minister said any attempts to enter the prison will lead to arrests.
“We await them,” Yark said.” In a state of rule of law like ours, we will get them arrested for offending moral values.”
Togolese officials invited the opposition for talks Friday, but it turned down the government invitation.
“We will not hold any discussions with the government except those aimed at negotiating President Faure Gnassingbe’s departure from power,” said constitutional law professor Zeus Ajavon, an opposition supporter.
Togo has been led by dynasty for more than 40 years.
Gnassingbe Eyadema ruled for 38 years until his death seven years ago. His son has led the nation since then.