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Kenya’s Femicide Epidemic Demand Action

By Treezer Michelle Atieno

Amid the sombre shadows of tragedy, where do the murmurs of justice find their voice? Kenya, currently experiencing a haunting surge in femicide, stands at the crossroads of urgency to unravel the mysteries shrouding the brutal murders of two women, Starlet Wahu and Rita Waeni.

On January 4, 2024, Starlet Wahu, a socialite, was stabbed by a man alleged to be part of a criminal ring targeting women on dating sites. A week later, on January 10, 2024, a young woman, Rita Waeni, was drugged and dismembered by a man she met in a rented apartment. Her body parts were disposed of in plastic bags. These are just the most gruesome ones- there are more.

Audrey Mugeni, co-founder of a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Femicide Count Kenya, calls it a crisis. “This is a national crisis; we are not doing enough as a country to protect women.” The solemn echoes of her words paint a vivid picture of a society grappling with a precarious challenge.

The NGO, meticulously documenting the annual toll of women’s lives lost, unveiled a staggering 152 killings last year, a sombre record that marks the highest toll in the past five years. Yet, even this ominous count, based solely on reported cases, conceals the exact scale of the tragedy, with the actual number believed to be much higher.

The first weeks of the new year bear witness to over ten harrowing femicide cases. In Kisumu, a woman’s body was found in a thicket opposite Kotetni Primary School in Otonglo area on 3rd January. The woman had stab wounds and is believed to have been pregnant. On 20th January, another body of a woman was discovered behind Kenya Matches in the same area. 21st January also recorded yet another murder of a woman in Nyakach, Kisumu County.

Against this backdrop of horror, a 2022 national survey casts a chilling light on the pervasiveness of physical violence against women in Kenya. More than one in three women report enduring such violence in their lifetime, a stark revelation that underscores the pressing need for substantive change. While the country boasts robust laws and policies against gender-based violence, rights groups lament the glaring gap in implementation.

According to Audrey, Femicide Count Kenya has borne witness to a disturbing catalogue of incidents since its inception in 2019. Women have been stabbed, beaten, mutilated, strangled, and even set ablaze with fuel. In this chilling mosaic of violence, most victims fall within the vulnerable age range of 21 to 30.

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