- radio stations played rap song conveying the demands of the strike
In early September 2006, a group of Colombian women, the partners of local gangsters, declared a sex strike. Their demand was that gang members turn in their weapons to the municipal government and agree to begin a vocational training program.
The strike began during a meeting in which twenty-five women from different neighborhoods came together to oppose the violence of their partners or spouses.
Said Julio Cesar Gomez, the security official in the city of Pereira’s local government, “this is about changing the cultural parameters: Some women thought that men wearing fatigues and holding guns looked more attractive, and most men are members of gangs not because of financial necessity but because killing is associated with power and sexual seduction.”
The striking women, partners of pandilleros and pistoleros (gangsters and gunmen) worked in collaboration with Gomez and the municipal government.
Pereira was considered one of Colombia’s most dangerous cities; in 2005, there were 488 homicides in the city, along with a per capita rate of 97 murders per 100,000 residents, twice the national average.
Pereira is a small city, with only around 300,000 residents. “We want them to know that violence is not sexy,” said Jennifer Bayer, 18, the girlfriend of a gang member.
She and at least two-dozen other women (some reports say up to 100 women participated) promised to continue the sex strike until their demands were met.
They benefitted from much public support – one month earlier, on 18 August, 140,000 people had voted in favor of disarming the civilians – which also extended to air time on the radio.
On September 11, the women released a rap song that was widely played on radio stations all over the city, with the chorus, “Como mujer, mucho valemos / que no nos deslumbre, un hombre violento / porque con ellos, mucho perdemos. / Yo elijo cómo, dónde, cuándo me entrego. / Todas unidas lo lograremos / contra los violentos, las piernas cerremos. / Paro sexual, / paro sexual”
(“as women, we have much worth / a violent man will not dazzle us / because with them, we all lose. / I will chose how, where, when I surrender. / All together, we will win / against the violent ones, with our legs crossed. / Stop sex work, / stop sex work!”)
While none of the news articles mention an end date for the strike, the results were very clear. The Guardian reports, by “2010 the city’s murder rate saw the steepest decline in Colombia, down by 26.5%.”
Columnists attribute this rapid decline to the action of these women years earlier.