MOMBASA, Kenya Jan 17 – ‘No voters card, no sex’ is the rallying call by Mombasa Woman Representative Mishi Mboko, as part of measures to mobilise residents of the coastal region to register as voters.
“Women, if your husband has not been registered as a voter, refuse (to give him conjugal rights) and tell him to go get registered and then come back… Just tell him that,” Mboko told women at a meeting at the Jomo Kenyatta Showground, Mkomani.
She also urged the youth to adopt the same strategy.
“Even you the youth, you must be firm with your girlfriends and tell them we must all get registered. Let’s all get registered!” she urged.
In 2009 Kenyan women launched a week-long sex strike in order to protest infighting in the then unity government and force political leaders to work together for the common good.
Similar carnal boycotts have been employed by women across the globe seeking to effect change or make a point, however it is unclear how much they really work.
In 2002 Liberian Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee organised a sex strike in a bid to halt the war in her country.
Belgian women called for a sex strike and shaving boycott to force politicians to form a government in 2011, and Colombian women likewise in 2006 staged a strike “of crossed legs” to press gangsters to give up their guns.
In 2014 a group of Ukrainian women started a campaign called “Don’t give it to a Russian,” to protest the annexation of Crimea.
And in ancient Greece, Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata sees women boycotting the marital bed to end the Peloponnesian war.
In Kisumu, a different strategy was adopted by boda boda operators who gave residents a week to register as voters failure to which they will not ferry them.
“Passengers must prove to us through a slip or the text message from IEBC that they have been registered as voters. This election is about numbers, it is the numbers that will win, and numbers cannot just come by talking, it is about people registering as voters. That is why we are mobilizing our people,” said James Owiti who heads an association for boda boda operators in Kisumu.
“Even within our association, we have told all members to register.”
But such threats have not gone down well with human rights groups who termed them intimidation because there is no law compelling anyone to register or cast the ballot.
“As a Kenyan you have a right to be registered as a voter, you have a right to vote of course and other political rights, however, it is not mandatory for a Kenyan to go and register or to vote,” said Carol Werunga, a Commissioner at the Kenya Human Rights Commission.
While it is mandatory in other countries for citizens to vote, it is not the same here in Kenya.
“We are not like countries like Brazil where voting is mandatory. Voting is a right in Kenya but not mandatory for one to go and vote,” she said.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is undertaking the second and final Mass Voter Registration which kicked off Monday, ahead of the August General Election.
The exercise ends on February 14.