Colombia sex strike 'Crossed Legs' protest appears to be working, say Barbacoas women

Women in a remote village are refusing to have sex with their partners until a dangerous 35-mile road is repaired 

Heather Saul
Wednesday 06 November 2013 16:15
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The group at a Crossed Legs protest march in 2011
The group at a Crossed Legs protest march in 2011

A group of Colombian women have gone on a ‘sex strike’ in protest of the crumbling road leading out of the area – and it appears to be working.

Women in the remote Colombian town of Barbacoas first formed the “crossed legs” movement two years ago. They refused to have sex with their husbands and partners to encourage the Government to deal with the terrible condition of a 35-mile stretch of road leading out of the area.

The road is often closed because of frequent flooding and mudslides and can take 24 hours to travel down. Reaching the nearest hospital can involve a journey of up to 14 hours.

The group of approximately 300, who held their first sex strike in 2011, say they withhold sex because many young women are at risk of dying in child birth on their way to the hospital.

At the time, strike leader Ruby Quinonez said: “Why bring children into this world when they can just die without medical attention and we can't even offer them the most basic rights? We decided to stop having sex and stop having children until the state fulfils its previous promises.”

After three months of abstinence, the Government pledged funds to re-pave the road, but this did not materialise.

Since beginning their second protest in October, the group say men in the town have been spurned into helping fix the road, and Columbian army engineers have been re-paving problem areas, which was confirmed by Col. Ricardo Roque, who is leading the project.

Maribel Silva, a Barbacoas judge and a spokeswoman for the Crossed Legs movement, told the GlobalPost: "At first, the men were really angry. But it worked."

The Barbacoas road was built decades ago and much needed repairs have been sporadic. While the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC have been weakened by a US-backed military offensive, they remain active which helps explain why Colombia's roads an often stay in such states of disrepair.

All four engineering firms contracted to fix the highway pulled out amid FARC attacks between 2002 and 2009.

Even in peaceful areas, constructing and repairing roads is challenging.

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