Women in Colombia Are On a Sex Strike For This Civic Cause

Women in the small Colombian town of Barbacoa are straight out of an ancient Greek comedy. They have organized themselves into what's being called a "crossed leg movement" by going on a sex strike to protest the condition of the roads that connect their isolated town to more populated regions in Colombia.

It takes between 12 and 14 hours to travel by car to the closest civilized region with access to a hospital. Reports have suggested that pregnant women have died on route to the closest hospital due to the rocky terrain and lengthy journey.

This story may sound familiar if you've read Lysistrata, an ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes in which the female protagonist organizes Athenian women to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers in hopes of prompting an end to the Peloponnesian War. Some feminists refer to the act of withholding sex as a "Lysistratic nonaction." These demonstrations are often "more successful when the women involved have little economic autonomy, when their demands are specific and realistic, and when they possess endurance and strength in numbers."

In Barbacoa, they have a clear demand: to improve road conditions. As a result of the challenging conditions, guerrilla warfare is common and hinders country-wide travel. For decades, it has plagued the town and surrounding area along the Andes mountain range. 

Two years ago the same group of women held a similar sex protest that lasted almost four months. It resulted in the transportation minister pledging $21 million to pave the road.

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Laura Gillen

Background in international development and women's empowerment. Avid tennis player, runner, sailor, and yogi. D.C. based.

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