South Sudan women suggest sex strike to end war

A group of South Sudanese women peace activists has suggested that men in the civil war-torn country be denied sex until they stop fighting. -- PHOTO: AFP
A group of South Sudanese women peace activists has suggested that men in the civil war-torn country be denied sex until they stop fighting. -- PHOTO: AFP

JUBA (AFP) - A group of South Sudanese women peace activists has suggested that men in the civil war-torn country be denied sex until they stop fighting.

The suggestion emerged after around 90 women, including several members of South Sudan's parliament, met in the capital Juba this week to come up with ideas on how to "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 Thursday.

Other proposals included finding ways to meet the wives of President Salva Kiir and his arch-rival, rebel chief Riek Machar, to "ask them to join the search for peace and reconciliation by impressing upon their husbands to stop the war".

Thousands of people have been killed and almost two million have fled the fighting between government troops, mutinous soldiers and tribal militia forces.

Civilians have been massacred, patients murdered in hospitals and people killed while sheltering in churches.

Almost 100,000 people are sheltering in squalid UN peacekeeping bases fearing they will be killed if they leave.

Tobias Atari Okori, from the government-backed South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission, acknowledged that the idea highlighted that people were desperate for the war to end.

"People are experiencing great suffering, and it is the women, children and the aged who are suffering the worst," he said.

The UN special envoy on sexual violence Zainab Bangura said this month the levels of rape are the worst she had ever seen.

Political and military leaders have repeatedly broken promises made under intense international pressure, including during visits to South Sudan by UN chief Ban Ki Moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Earlier this month, a group of 19 major aid agencies warned that while massive food drops had helped avert famine for now, the threat remained and would continue to worsen the longer the war continues.