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February 24, 2024
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Kenya femicide: Hundreds protest at violence against women

Demonstrations are taking place across major cities in Kenya to protest against the rising cases of femicide and other violence against women.

Hundreds have gathered in Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa, Nyeri and Lodwar, some carrying placards with the names of those who were killed.

A 2022 survey found at least one in three Kenyan women had endured physical violence at some point in their lives.

“I am here because I’m angry,” 33-year-old Winnie Chelagat told the BBC.

“It is wrong, we are tired and we want something to be done about it.”

Men and boys must take responsibility for their own actions instead of the burden being on women and girls to protect themselves, said another protester called Michael Onyango.

“We should educate our sons and tell them that they need to stop killing women.”

Saturday’s protests follow a series of gruesome murders of women – including one victim, later named as Rita Waeni, whose dismembered remains were found stuffed into a plastic bag at an Airbnb rental apartment.

Femicide is defined as intentionally killing a woman or girl because they are female.

Amnesty International says more than 500 cases of femicide were recorded in Kenya between the years 2016 and 2023.

Many of the victims were killed by intimate partners or people known to them.

Campaigners want the authorities to expedite justice for all recent victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

Dozens of local rights groups say the government must declare femicide a national emergency and class femicide as a specific crime, distinct from murder.

In Nairobi on Saturday, demonstrators chanted “Sisi ni watu sio wanyama” in Swahili – meaning “we are human beings not animals”.

Others carried banners saying “only weak men kill women” and “every time you blame the victim you affirm the murderer”.

Victim-blaming has been rife on social media, with commenters in Kenya’s so-called “manosphere” blaming murdered women for their own deaths.

Many messages on online platforms focus on what the victims were wearing when they were attacked, or question why they did not use their mobile phones to tell family and friends their whereabouts.

Despite Kenya having robust laws against gender-based violence, most perpetrators go unpunished. When prosecutions are brought, they often drag on for years in court.

 

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