Women and feminists in Kenya took to the streets on Saturday to march against rising cases of femicide. The nationwide protest dubbed ‘Feminist March Against Femicide’, is taking place in 11 counties: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Homabay, Turkana, Kilifi, Machakos, Kisii, and Nyeri.
The protest follows a series of gruesome murders of women. The most recent are the murders of Stella Wahu, 26, who was brutally murdered in a short-term rental apartment, and Rita Waeni, a first-year university student whose dismembered body was also found in another short-term rental apartment in Nairobi.
16 women killed in one month
Majority of the women were killed by an intimate partner. The murders of the two women are just the tip of the iceberg of Kenya’s growing femicide problem.
In 2018, Sharon Otieno, a student at Rongo University who was reportedly the girlfriend of a County Governor was found dead in a forest in another county. In 2019, Ivy Wangeci, a medical student, was hacked to death by a jilted boyfriend in Eldoret county.
Eunice Wangari was thrown from the balcony of a 12-storey building in Nairobi in 2020, and celebrated Olympic runner Agnes Tirop was allegedly stabbed to death by her husband in 2021.
These are some of the high publicized cases of femicide in Kenya. A study conducted by the Africa Data Hub estimates that there will be around 500 femicide victims between 2016 and 2024. Studies conducted by UN Women show that Africa recorded the highest absolute number of female intimate partner and family-related killings with an estimated 20, 000 victims.
All these killings occur despite the existence of robust international and national legal mechanisms, like in Kenya’s Constitution and the country’s Penal code.
Despite this, the perpetrators of most intimate partner violence and femicide go unpunished. In 2019, alarmed by the rising cases of femicide and intimate partner violence, women came together to demand accountability in a peaceful protest across the country.
This Saturday, Kenyan women are once again marching against the rise of femicide cases – organising under the hashtag #TotalShutdownKe.
Several human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, have shown their commitment and support for the march.