October 23, 2014 (JUBA) – A group of female South Sudanese peace activists have appealed to women across the country and in diaspora to consider denying their husbands sex until the conflict is resolved.
South Sudanese women collecting sorghum and oil some hours after an airdrop conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Unity state’s Leer (Photo: ICRC/Jacob Zocherman)
The proposal is one of the resolutions passed at a meeting last week in the capital, Juba, which was attended by more than 90 women, including several members of parliament.
The meeting was one of the series being held by female activists aimed at drawing the attention of the country’s rival leaders and the international community to end the more than 10-minth-long crisis.
Former deputy minister for gender, child and social welfare Priscila Nyanyang, who was the lead coordinator of the event, told reporters on Thursday the meeting was held as a platform for women to come up with ideas on ways “to advance the cause of peace, healing and reconciliation”.
“A key suggestion was to mobilise all women in South Sudan to deny their husbands conjugal rights until they ensure that peace returns,” organisers said in a statement released on Thursday.
Nyanyang said other proposals included arranging meetings with the wives of president Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel leader, Riek Machar, to personally “ask them to join the search for peace and reconciliation by impressing upon their husbands to stop the war”.
“We felt it is necessary [that] they are involved,” said Nyanyang, referring to the wives of the rival leaders.
“They have a big role to play in bringing peace to this country,” she added.
However, analysts have expressed doubt over whether the strategy would deliver any real impact.
Jane Kane, a US-based women’s rights activist, urged the group to consider other effective approaches.
“I am not sure how effective this strategy will be especially in South Sudan,” said Kane.
“In addition to this suggestion, I also think my sisters inside the country in particular need to consider other campaign strategies,” she added.
She cited Liberia as an example where activists employed multiple campaign strategies to great effect, which ultimately led to an end to conflict and the subsequent election of Africa’s first female president.
Kane there were many ways South Sudan’s female activists could get their viewpoints heard, including staging peaceful demonstrations across the country and elsewhere, sit-ins, mass stripping in public – as was employed by Ukrainian activist group Femen – as well as occupying strategic target areas such as government and military institutions, major streets or bridges and venues of peace talks.
“People are experiencing great suffering, and it is the women, children and the aged who are suffering the worst,” said Kane.
“I hope the sex strike works. It was tried in other African countries before, such as Liberia and [the] Ivory Coast,” she added.