LOME, Togo (AP) — Women in the civil rights group "Let's Save Togo" said they will have a week long sex strike to demand the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe.
The plan for women to withhold sex from their husbands for a week will start Monday, said Isabelle Ameganvi, leader of the group's women's wing. She said the strike will urge Togo's men to take action against Gnassingbe.
Ameganvi, a lawyer, told the Associated Press that her group is following the example of Liberia's women who used a sex strike in 2003 to campaign for peace.
"We have many means to oblige men to understand what women want in Togo," said Ameganvi.
"If men refuse to hear our cries we will hold other demos that will be more powerful than a sex strike," Ameganvi said during a demonstration Saturday of several thousand in the capital city. The rally was organised by a coalition which is protesting recent electoral reforms which they say will make it easier for Gnassingbe to win reelection in the polls set for October.
The demonstration took place peacefully but earlier this month two anti-Gnassingbe protests were dispersed by police using tear gas and more than 100 people were arrested.
Gnassingbe came to power in 2005, following the death of his father Gnassingbi Eyadema who ruled the West African country for 38 years. Gnassingbe has not commented on the sex strike, nor has his wife.
At the Saturday rally Jean-Pierre Fabre, leader of the opposition party, the National Alliance for Change, called for Gnassingbe's resignation. Other opposition leaders called for civil disobedience to protest against Gnassingbe.
But it is the sex strike against the president that has people talking in this small country of seven million people.
"It's a good thing for us women to observe this sex-strike as long as our children are in jail now. I believe that by observing this, we will get them released," said Abla Tamekloe. "For me, it's like fasting, and unless you fast, you will not get what you want from God."
When asked if her husband will agree with her stand, Tamekloe said: "I have no choice and he has no choice either. It is easy for me to observe it. I am used to it, but I am not sure my husband will accept, but I have to explain to him"
Another Togolese woman said she supports the sex strike, but she does not know if she can carry it out for a full week.
"I do agree that we women have to observe this sex strike but I know my husband will not let me complete it. He may agree at first, but as far as I know him, he will change overnight," said Judith Agbetoglo. "So I don't believe I can do the one week sex strike. Otherwise, I will have serious issues with him. He likes that too much."
Though the call for a sex strike seemed to please women, many men, including heads of opposition parties and human rights groups in the anti-Gnassingbe coalition, did not believe it would be a success.
"One week sex strike is too much" said Fabre of the National Alliance for Change, who suggested a shorter period, amid laughter from the crowd at the demonstration. "Let's go for only two days".
Others were skeptical of Isabelle Ameganvi's call for a sex strike. "That is not serious at all. It is easy for her to say because she is not married herself. She does not live with a man at home," said Ekoue Blame, a Togolese journalist. "Does she think women who live with their husband will be able to observe that? By the way, who controls what couples do behind closed doors?"