This Country is on a Sex Strike and Here's Why

Kenyan women in a past protest march | © Brian Inganga
Kenyan women in a past protest march | © Brian Inganga
Sex and politics usually make uncomfortable bedfellows. Most mentions of sex in the political arena are usually quickly followed by denials, apologies and sometimes resignations. In Kenya, however, sex has just become another campaign tool.

Women leaders in Nyeri County, in the central part of the country and a stronghold of incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta, are urging women of the region to withhold coitus privileges until their husbands have cast their ballot.

Led by Rahab Mukami, the women of the Nyeri County Women’s Representative are insisting that their men’s conjugal rights be suspended until after the vote.

This is not a novelty for Kenyans, when Raila Odinga – flag-bearer of the opposition coalition, the National Supreme Alliance, and main rival to President Kenyatta – urged his supporters on July 16 to refrain from sex on the eve of the August 8 election.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta MEAACT Kenya/Flickr

The region has a history of marital bed matters coming to the fore. Two years ago, women of the central region were up in arms over what they called a ‘lack of real men’, taking to the streets to protest against the illicit local brews that were making their men perform poorly, if at all, in the bedroom. It seems, however, that the region’s political heavyweights are leaving nothing to chance.

Attitudes toward sex in this predominantly Christian and deeply conservative country mean that sex is still considered a taboo subject in public forums. This has not stopped women across the political spectrum from using all the tools at their disposal to get their men to vote.

Opposition supporters protest against electoral commission, Nairobi, Kenya © DAI KUROKAWA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Tensions in Kenya are running high as the two political heavyweights clash in an election that many see as the final chapter of a political rivalry that began with Uhuru’s father, Kenya’s first president Joma Kenyatta, and his rivalry with Raila’s father, Oginga Odinga.

The presidential election is being rerun after a ruling by the Supreme Court of Kenya nullified the results of the August 8 presidential election. The ruling, read by the Chief Justice David Maraga, held that the election process was deeply flawed and as such so were the results, which initially saw incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee coalition be declared the winner. This led to his main challenger, Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA), filing the ultimately successful appeal just hours after the declaration.

Kenya presidential elections re-run, Nairobi © DANIEL IRUNGU/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Voting has opened in most parts of the country and many of the supporters of the opposition leader are staying away from the polls in a show of protest against the failure of the nation’s electoral body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), to address the issues that led to the nullification of the first election.

The men of Nyeri, however, know what is at stake if they do not exercise their right to vote.