Rights groups are urgently urging the Kenyan government to investigate and prosecute femicide cases following the brutal murders of two women.
Femicide Count Kenya, an NGO documenting such cases, reported 152 killings last year, the highest in the past five years. This year has already seen at least four femicides, with two high-profile cases, including the murder of 26-year-old Starlet Wahu.
The nonprofit contends that the actual number of killings is likely higher than reported. More than one in three women in Kenya report experiencing physical violence in their lifetime. While the country has strong laws and policies against gender-based violence, there are concerns about their implementation.
“This is a national crisis – we are not doing enough as a country to protect women,” said Audrey Mugeni, co-founder of Femicide Count Kenya. “Femicides don’t just happen – there’s usually a series of events that happens before it ends in [a killing] – so we need to pay more attention to that.”
Despite strong legal frameworks, challenges persist in addressing gender-based violence effectively. Recent femicides have led to widespread social media outrage and calls to end gender-based violence, accompanied by hashtags such as #StopKillingWomen and #EndFemicideKe.
However, victim blaming and debates on women’s safety precautions emerged, highlighting the need to address harmful norms that can contribute to femicide. Feminists in Kenya emphasized that the core issue lies in men perpetrating violence, rather than women failing to ensure their safety.
Femicide Count Kenya criticized the government’s inaction, stating, “The government cannot remain complicit… Enforcement and accountability are urgently needed.”
The Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness, another women’s rights NGO, expressed disturbance and appall over the “distressing pattern of violence.” Feminist movements in Kenya are planning protests to demand an end to femicide.
“This is something that’s happening [very often] but it’s not being reported as much as it needs to be,” said Mugeni. “We need to call it what it is and speak up more about it so we can repair what is broken in society.”
The recent cases stress the urgent need for comprehensive efforts to address and prevent femicide in Kenya. Raising awareness, promoting accountability, and challenging harmful cultural norms are crucial components of building a safer environment for women.