Close-up of a woman's bare crossed legs.
A “strike of crossed legs” by Colombian women has gotten road builders to get to work. (Photo Credit: CC BY/crest_of_the_wave/Flickr)

No relationship counselor will say it’s a good idea to use withholding sex as a bargaining chip in a relationship. Yet in the small port town of Barbacoas, Colombia, that’s exactly what 300 women did in order to get a road paved. For 38 days, the women participated in what local media referred to as a “strike of crossed legs” to get their builder and government official men to connect Barbacoas with Columbia’s highway system. The women – and the men who joined them – were successful.

Colombian sex strike for better roads

The strike of crossed legs was reportedly joined by a group of men who went on a hunger strike, notes Colombia Reports. The condition of the unpaved road leading out of Barbacoas was reportedly so bad that it took residents 12 to 14 hours to reach the nearest hospital. Previous efforts over the past 20 years to inspire local government and the Nation Roads Institute to pave the road had been met with unfulfilled promises and dismissals.

After 38 days, the denial of sex campaign ended with a promise from the NRI, the acting governor of the nearby town of Nariño and an representative of the Colombian Army that paving will begin on Oct. 11. The project will reportedly cost at least 40,000 million pesos. The women, led by organizers like Ruby Quinonez, have said that the strike of crossed legs will continue until the pavement is smooth and dry.

‘Something very important for us’

Protest promoter Diego Fernando Enriquez told the press that the nation’s army will begin setting up supply depots along the route immediately.

“Something very important for us is that the project was reported in the national budget and that the project includes construction of the whole way,” said Enriquez.

What is important to the women in the strike of crossed legs is that the government remains true to its pronouncement.

“The Barbacoan community is aware that there have always been many promises made here that have never been kept,” said the group in a press release.

Deprived of human rights

According to Quinonez, the strike of crossed legs is about basic human rights.

“We are being deprived of our most human rights, and as women we can’t allow that to happen,” she 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 fulfills its previous promises.”

Colombia is largely unaccustomed to battles fought with sexual politics. In other parts of the world, such battles are more common. Reproductive rights, safer sex, gender-power relations in the home and workplace and numerous related issues are argued. In the West, the SlutWalk campaign is the latest sign that there are women who will make their voices heard for change.


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