Nationwide protests in Kenya denounce rising femicide cases

Kenyan women are protesting against the surge of femicide and violence in the country, demanding justice and action from the government.

Women across Kenya are taking to the streets to demand an end to the escalating violence and killings of women in the country.

In Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa, Nyeri and Lodwar, hundreds of protesters have joined the rallies, holding signs with the names of the slain women.

According to a 2022 survey, more than a third of Kenyan women have experienced physical violence in their lifetime.

“We are here because we are angry,” Winnie Chelagat, a 33-year-old protester, told the BBC. “We want justice and we want action.”

The protests come after a spate of brutal murders of women, including Rita Waeni, whose mutilated body was discovered in a plastic bag at an Airbnb apartment.

Femicide is the deliberate killing of a woman or girl because of her gender. Amnesty International reports that over 500 femicides occurred in Kenya between 2016 and 2023. Many of the victims were killed by their partners or acquaintances.

Activists are urging the government to speed up the legal process for the recent cases of sexual and gender-based violence. They also call for the government to declare femicide a national crisis and a separate crime from murder.

On Saturday, protesters in Nairobi shouted “Sisi ni watu sio wanyama” in Swahili, which means “we are not animals, we are human beings”. Some of the banners read “only weak men kill women” and “blaming the victim is supporting the murderer”.

Social media has been flooded with victim-blaming comments, with some users in Kenya’s “manosphere” holding the murdered women responsible for their own deaths. Many of the posts focus on the victims’ clothing or question why they did not inform their relatives or friends of their location.

Despite having strong laws against gender-based violence, Kenya has a low conviction rate for the offenders. The trials often last for years in court.

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