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Campaign to End Femicide Cases in Kenya: Advocates Urge Government to Take Action

By Seliphar Machoni

According to the 2022 Homicide Country Data Report by  the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the nation grappled with 706 cases of femicide in 2021, revealing a stark statistic of 2.64 cases per 100,000 women.

As per the same report, Kenya is one of the countries with the highest rate of female homicides and female abuse, causing civil societies and human rights organizations to step out to condemn the ongoing strategic killings of women in the country, calling upon the necessary authorities to address the issue.

Last year, Femicide Count Kenya, a nonprofit organization that documents the number of women killed across the country each year, recorded 152 killings, the highest in the past five years. The representatives of the organization say the number of killings is likely to be higher.

Amka Africa, an organization that works on ensuring that the poor, the minority, and the marginalised have justice, also took to its Facebook account, stating, “It is so sad that people have put their focus on blaming the victims instead of focusing on the brutality of the act. Let’s direct our attention to the real issue – the perpetrators. It’s time for the police to ensure justice is served.”

Feminists in Kenya posted on its official platform, condemning the escalating femicide cases, as well as any notion suggesting that women perceived as living outside patriarchal standards deserve death.

“In calling for accountability, we recognize the inadequacies of Kenya’s criminal justice system to effectively provide redress to survivors and victims. We urge all relevant institutions to take necessary and urgent steps in safeguarding women’s constitutional right to life,” the organization wrote.

More than one in three women in Kenya report having experienced physical violence in their lifetime, according to a 2022 national survey.

According to the rights groups, the country has strong laws and policies against gender-based violence, but implementation is wanting.

“We need to listen to women when they say they are facing violence. Femicides don’t just happen; there’s usually a series of events that happens before it ends in deaths, so we need to pay more attention,” said Audrey Mugeni, the co-founder of Femicide Count Kenya, during an interview.

On Wednesday,  Femicide Count Kenya released a statement on X criticizing government inaction.

“The government cannot remain complicit. Kenya is a party to international conventions against gender-based violence. The President himself has pledged to protect women’s lives. These promises are hollow when femicide remains rampant. Enforcement and accountability are urgently needed,” it read.

The Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness, a non-governmental organization that fights for women’s rights joined other organizations in urging the government to hold perpetrators of femicide accountable, saying it was disturbed and appalled by the distressing pattern of violence.

Feminist movements in the country have called for a protest later this month to demand an end to the killings.

“This is something that’s happening, but it’s not being reported as much as it needs to be. We need to call it what it is and speak up more about it so we can report what is broken in society,” said Mugeni.

According to African Data Hub, which tracks femicide cases in Kenya, 75% of  the cases and killings were committed by an intimate partner, relative or friend.

Nearly two-thirds of perpetrators were currently or had previously been in an intimate relationship with the victim. Husbands, then boyfriends were the biggest culprits. In only about 15% of the cases, the woman was killed by a stranger.

It also shows that Nairobi, Kiambu, and Nakuru counties have reported the highest incidences of femicide-related killings.

“It’s crucial to note that due to data limitations and uneven news coverage across the country, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that they have the highest overall murder rates. Some counties either underreport murder cases or omit details about the circumstances, making it challenging to determine if the incidents qualify as femicide. Additionally, certain areas lack news correspondents or media bureaus, resulting in limited local coverage that may not reach the national level. This underscores the complexity of obtaining a comprehensive understanding of femicide trends nationwide,” the report says.

The report explains that while women, in general, face a higher risk of experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) and femicide, the trends in the data show that women aged 18 to 40 form the largest demographic of victims of femicide in Kenya.

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