The strike of the closed legs

The women in the Colombian village with the endlessly long name "Santa Maria del Puerto de Toledo de las Barbacoas" are getting serious: on 22. June began the "strike of the closed legs". Since then, in the sleepy nest with its 35.000 inhabitants, nothing is the way it used to be.

With their walkout, the women want to persuade the authorities to finally pave the road to the neighboring village. It's like a muddy road after rain, and it's 57 kilometers to the next village. "On bad days, it takes us up to 20 hours to cover the distance," reports Ruby Lolay Cabezas, one of the striking women. The provincial capital of Pasto is just another day's journey away. Here's how to keep to yourself.

For 39 days now, the same spectacle has been repeated every day. The women of Barbacoas and loudly proclaim their slogans: "No more sex, we want a highway." The residents are fed up with the arduous journeys, but above all they want to finally end the state of isolation. Life in Barbacoas is no bed of roses. In the area, paramilitary units and leftist guerrillas repeatedly engage in combat. There is no supermarket and no exchange with other parishes, because Barbacoas is far remote.

Hunger strike should force the women to give up
For Manuel Olimpo Quinonez, husband of Ruby Lolay Cabezas, the strike was difficult to understand at first. The teacher initially suspected relationship problems in his own home were behind the refusal: "I couldn't understand what the poor state of the street had to do with sex. It's all just an excuse not to have a relationship with me anymore," he thought to himself in the early days. Meanwhile, he supports the protest of about 300 women.
Other men, on the other hand, are furious, and tried to force the women to give up with a hunger strike; they have since broken it off, but the conflict remains.

The protest, bizarre at first glance, has a sad background. A local woman died of internal bleeding a few weeks ago because an ambulance couldn't make it to the remote village in time. It was not the first case of this kind. On this day, the first women began to think about how Barbacoas could finally be connected to the infrastructure. Eventually they decided to go on sex strike. The first women meet at nine in the morning. They wear a T-shirt with the inscription "How much longer?". The text deliberately alludes ambiguously to waiting – for the streets and for sex.

In the evening the protest continues in the Colosseum. Then the demonstrators meet to discuss what has been achieved so far. Proudly, they collate how the Colombian media is reporting on the sex strike. The public is their greatest weapon. It's not as if the men had not previously addressed the ie. For three years they have been writing petitions to the responsible politicians. But nothing was done. That's why the women of Barbacoas decided to take this unusual measure.

Long time inactive government
The government in the seemingly endlessly distant capital Bogota has meanwhile made contact with the rebellious women. Finally. In November 2009, the authorities promised to build the road. Since then no handshake has moved. The Ministry of Transport will now consider how to solve the problem as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, in Barbacoas, life goes on – without sex: One of the striking women, Liliana Mendez, told the daily newspaper "El Tiempo," which visited the village this week: "At night they try to seduce us, but we just give them the cold shoulder." In Barbacoas they want to be tough. Ana de Jesus Herrera affirms: "We will continue to strike until we see the first construction workers in the city, who will begin to finally prepare the road."

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Christina Cherry
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