Femicide in Kenya Declared National Crisis by Rights Groups
Rights groups are sounding alarm bells over the surge in femicide cases in Kenya, labeling it a national crisis and pointing fingers at the government for perceived inaction. The brutal murders of at least four women since the beginning of the year have intensified calls for urgent investigations and prosecutions.
Audrey Mugeni, co-founder of Femicide Count Kenya, an NGO documenting female fatalities across the country, expressed deep concern: “This is a national crisis – we are not doing enough as a country to protect women.” Last year, the organization recorded 152 killings, the highest in the past five years. Nonprofit representatives assert that the actual number of femicides is likely higher than reported.
Two high-profile cases have garnered public attention. Starlet Wahu, a 26-year-old, was murdered on January 4th, allegedly by a man associated with a criminal ring targeting women through dating sites. Another woman, just two weeks later, was drugged and dismembered by a man she had arranged to meet. These incidents have sparked outrage and renewed calls to address gender-based violence in the country.
Kenya, despite having strong laws and policies against gender-based violence, is criticized for the inadequate implementation of these measures. A 2022 national survey revealed that over one in three women in Kenya report having experienced physical violence in their lifetime. Mugeni emphasized the importance of listening to women’s experiences, stating, “Femicides don’t just happen – there’s usually a series of events that lead to it, and we need to pay more attention to that.”
Social media has become a platform for widespread condemnation and activism, with hashtags like #StopKillingWomen and #EndFemicideKe trending. However, the discourse also includes victim-blaming, debates on the safety of short-term rentals, and suggestions that women should take greater safety precautions – perspectives deemed by women’s groups as normalizing femicide.
In a statement, Femicide Count Kenya criticized government inaction, calling for urgent enforcement and accountability. The Centre for Rights, Education, and Awareness, a women’s rights NGO, joined the chorus, expressing disturbance and appall over the distressing pattern of violence. Feminist movements are planning protests later this month to demand an end to these killings.
Mugeni urged society to acknowledge and address the issue, stating, “We need to call it what it is and speak up more about it so we can repair what is broken in society.”