Page last updated at 16:19 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Naples sex strike over fireworks

Fireworks (file image)
New Year's Eve could go off without a bang for some Neapolitan men

New Year's Eve could prove to be something of a damp squib for some men in the Italian city of Naples.

Hundreds of Neapolitan women have pledged to go without sex unless their men promise to refrain from setting off dangerous illegal fireworks.

Local authorities are backing the women and have sent out text messages urging the men to "make love, not explosions".

The women say it is the only way to persuade their partners that they are serious about their concerns.

"Setting off illegal fireworks isn't celebrating, it's dangerous," Carolina Staiano, a founder of the campaign, told La Stampa newspaper.

The idea of no sex is not exactly popular
Local councillor Vincenzo Sorrentino
She told women that if their man did not understand the dangers they should "take action and make him sleep on the sofa".

''If a sex strike is what it takes in order to get the attention of our men, husbands, partners and sons, then we're ready for it," Mrs Staiano, 44, told Italy's Ansa news agency.

'Sensitive issue'

Mrs Staiano, who has the support of local churches, speaks from personal experience when warning of the dangers of fireworks.

She has spent her life caring for her father, who was left partially paralysed and with epilepsy after a firework exploded next to him at a New Year's Eve party before she was born.

But the campaign, which started as a small-scale pledge in her home town of Lettere, about 40km (25 miles) from Naples, now has hundreds of supporters and has generated massive media interest.

''I'm receiving phone calls all the time from people who want to join. To be honest, I really wasn't expecting this level of interest,' said Mrs Staiano.

The move was inspired by the ancient Greek play Lysistrata, in which the women of Athens refuse to have sex unless their men folk forge a truce with their rivals from Sparta.

Doctor and local councillor Vincenzo Sorrentino, who has long campaigned against the illegal fireworks, said a sex ban was "an issue that men are particularly sensitive to''.

''The idea of no sex is not exactly popular and polls among local men have suggested they plan to make much greater efforts this year to prevent illegal fireworks being let off," he said.

Previous attempts to prevent the New Year's Eve mayhem had proved unsuccessful, said Mr Sorrentino, but he hoped the women's threat would do the job.

"They are more convincing and they always achieve their goals," he said.

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Rome says if the men of Naples fail to get the women's message, an awful lot of them could be waking up on sofas on New Year's Day.

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