Men like to fight. It's in their genes. This perhaps explains why wars have been a fact of life since the dawn of civilization. Throughout most of history, the womenfolk have had no option but to endure the mayhem, which killed fathers, sons and husbands; and destroyed entire families. They hated war, but there was not much they could do to stop it. Now, some enterprising women in Sudan have decided that enough is enough. They have thrown down the gauntlet.
A bitter civil war has been raging in Sudan for the past 19 years. An entire generation has grown up knowing nothing else. Now, Samira Akhmed, a former teacher at a Sudan university, has decided to do something about it. She started out with a group of 20 women and formed a movement named Al-Khair, which roughly translates into English as "refusal from sex with men." The group represented conflicting tribes Loo and Jekani, who accounted for most of the killing. They reckoned that they could make their husbands come to a peaceful agreement, if they deprived them of sex.
Although this might seem like an amusing novelty to Westerners, for the women of Sudan, it represented a revolutionary departure from centuries of tribal and religious tradition. According to traditional Islam, the husband always has right to sexual relations with his wife. Al-Khair is not giving up, however. The movement now has thousands of active measures.
Although the idea of refusing sex to achieve a political and social goal may seem modern and revolutionary, Akhmed actually got her inspiration from the ancient Greeks. In Aristophanes' comedy "Lysistrata," the despairing heroine invented an unusual way to make the men of Ellada stop war: she deprived them of woman love.
Akhmed considers her cause to be just and worthy. "This is my duty towards all women who make their best to bring up children in the country ruined by war," she says. She still has a long way to go. The movement is not so well-known in the north of Sudan, where the government institutions are situated.
Given the perverse nature of men and the testosterone in their DNA, it is to be seen whether Al-Khair has a significant impact on the senseless killing. However, even if it succeeds in saving a few hundred lives of husbands and sons, it is a cause well worth pursuing. The international community can do its bit too, by giving the movement the publicity it deserves - although that is unlikely. The civil war in Sudan is one of those forgotten wars that hardly ever enter the consciousness of Westerners, because it has no direct influence on their lives. It's a selfish world, after all.