The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ecuador constitution debate distracted by sex

By Cristina Munoz

MONTECRISTI, Ecuador (Reuters) - Should women have the legal right to demand sexual pleasure?

An Ecuadorean politician thinks so and offered to include a woman's right to good sex in the country's next constitution, which faces a referendum on its approval later this year.

Though Maria Soledad Vela's proposal was eventually scrapped, it sparked an outcry in the deeply religious Andean nation and overshadowed the work of the government-controlled assembly rewriting the constitution.

Pollsters say such proposals reinforce the idea among Ecuadoreans that the assembly is bogged down in idle debate and not solving everyday problems like unemployment.

"I think even if my proposal generated laughs and ridicule some parts of society are rethinking what really is a healthy sexual relationship and sexual pleasure," Vela said.

The 45-year-old mother of two says Ecuador's male-dominated society has forced women to serve as sexual objects, and her proposal aimed to bring gender equality and fight sexual violence even if that meant women suing their husbands.

The assembly is acting as the legislature and is key for left-winger President Rafael Correa's plans to curb the influence of traditional political parties and boost state control over the oil-producing country's economy.

In a more recent proposal, a government assembly member offered to change the country's coat of arms to include more indigenous symbols, which unleashed a wave of media criticism.

The government says media outlets are blowing such ideas out of proportion, trying to hurt the assembly's image.

A recent Cedatos poll showed the assembly's approval ratings dropped to 35 percent in May from 62 percent when it started work in November.

Some of Vela's colleagues ridiculed her proposal. One opposition member said a friend approached him to boast "so I will face life in jail" if the reform was approved.

"The right for sexual pleasure is valid, but not in the constitution," said Leonardo Viteri, a gynecologist and opposition member. "A woman can ask her gynecologist how to improve her sexual pleasure but not the constitution."

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