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Kenya’s Femicide Crisis Sparks Nationwide Protests

Femicide protests in Kenya/ Courtesy Image

Kenya’s Femicide Crisis Sparks Nationwide Protests

By Culton Scovia Nakamya

The Kenyan government is under pressure from women movements and activists to investigate and deliver justice to victims of the recent cases of femicide.

The murder of two women has sparked protests against femicide across major cities in the East African country. From Nairobi to Nakuru, to Nyeri and Mombasa, women have marched across streets with placards, chanting, “We are human beings, not animals.”

Femicide is described as the intentional murder of women and girls, primarily because of their gender. A murder case is regarded as femicide when committed by a person known to the victim, such as family members or intimate partners.

In the first weeks of 2024, Kenya has witnessed several reported cases of femicide, with two capturing significant public attention.

On January 3, 2024, 26-year-old Starlet Wahu, a social media influencer, lost her life allegedly at the hands of a man she met on Instagram, a social networking platform. Her lifeless body was found in an Airbnb room in Nairobi City. Police found HIV test kits and a blood-stained knife in the room. CCTV evidence retrieved by authorities shows a man whom Wahu entered with, leaving the room with blood-stained shirts.

Another disturbing incident occurred on January 14th when the dismembered body of 20-year-old Ritah Waeni was found packed in a bag and dumped at a garbage point close to an Airbnb apartment in Nairobi’s central business district. A few suspects are in police custody over these murders.

Femicide Count Kenya, an NGO that documents women’s murders, reveal that 152 women fell victim to femicide in 2023—the highest in the past five years. Amnesty International reports about 500 women murdered between 2016 and 2024. Many of these victims have been murdered by their intimate partners or family members. The Sexual Offenses Act in Kenya criminalizes all forms of violence against women, but reports indicate that one in 5 women has experienced any form of violence.

The ongoing End Femicide Kenya protests aim to draw attention to this grave issue.

“No, we can’t wake up to the news of another woman chopped up into pieces” reads one of the placards.

Activists want the government to categorize femicide as a specific crime, prosecute the perpetrators, and declare the alarming surge in murders a national emergency.

 

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