No Sex for Colombian Gangsters

The city of Pereira, Colombia, was the most violent in Colombia in 2005, reporting 488 killings last year, and has a per capita rate of 97 murders per 100,000 residents, double the national level.  90% of the deaths are caused by fire-arms, and 87% of victims are young gang members between the ages of 18 and 25.  The region has employed a disarmament scheme with mitigated success.  On Wednesday, September 13, approximately 100 female significant others of gang members are going to enact their own Lysistrata, which they are calling ‘The Crossed-Legs Strike.’ 

In a strike organized in part through the municipal office of the city, the women are refusing to be sexually intimate to show their boyfriends ”that violence is not sexy," Jennifer Bayer, 18, one of the girlfriends, told the Guardian.  She said the men weren’t taking the strike seriously – yet. The women were not worried that frustration would lead to violence against them by their partners. "They wouldn’t do that to us," Ms Bayer said.  ”This is our way of telling our spouses that we don’t want to be widows and that our children deserve to grow up with their fathers at their sides,” Ruth Macías, one of the striking women, who is 18 and mother of two declared to Caracol Radio.

 The city’s security secretary, Julio César Gómez, said surveys of gang members showed that ”their preferred activity was having sex and their membership of gangs had less to do with economic reasons and more to do with gaining power and sexual seduction.” Gómez, who has had three meetings about the initiative with the women, mostly between 15 and 18 years old, says that the idea is ”innocent,” and ”inoffensive” and that moreover ”it has been very well received.” "It requires some work to change the women’s cultural references too, because the mentality also exists in them that their husbands are handsome and more sexually attractive when armed and in camouflage uniforms,” he adds.  

According to the Guardian, the ”sex strike will continue until their men hand over their weapons to authorities and sign up for vocational training offered by the mayor’s office.”  El Pais say the strike will last for a week, and then women will decide whether to continue on a personal basis, depending on their partners’ behaviors.