Thousands join protests against femicide in Kenya after rise in killings

(NAIROBI, Kenya) — Thousands of people across Kenya took to the streets Saturday in nationwide protests calling for an end to femicide in the East African nation.

The protests — which have taken place in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, as well as in the major cities of Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri and Nakuru — have seen demonstrators calling for an end to violence against women and girls.

At least 10 cases of femicide have been reported in Kenya since Jan. 1, according to Amnesty International Kenya, bringing the rising gender-based violence to the forefront of national headlines.

In 2022, there were 46 total femicide deaths recorded in Kenya, according to health data provider Africa Data Hub. In 2023, the number of femicides in the country rose to at least 75.

“That is, every second day, a women has been brutalised and killed because of her identity,” said Amnesty International Kenya. “The majority of those murdered were below the age of 35 years and were killed by intimate partners or people known to them.”

“Violence is not normal and must never be normalized by our silence and inaction,” Amnesty International Kenya said.

The recent high-profile murders of Rita Waeni, 20, and Scarlet Wahu Mwangi, 24, both of which occurred in Airbnb’s, have shocked the nation; protesters on Saturday demanded justice accountability for their murders, as well as the hundreds of other women whose lives have been lost in Kenya to femicide in recent years. Authorities announced the arrest of a man in Nairobi for the death of Mwangi and two Nigerian nationals were arrested in Waeni’s death.

According to recent data from Africa Data Hub and data science company Odipo Dev, there have been at least 500 women killed in acts of femicide in Kenya between January 2016 and December 2023. “Through this comprehensive collection of killings, it becomes evident that these tragedies are far more than have been identified. And that the cases are not isolated; instead, they reveal recurring patterns, indicating a deeper and more systemic issue,” the report said.

In Nairobi, protesters and campaigners chanted “Stop Killing Us” and “Haki kwa wanawake!” (meaning “Justice for Women!” in Swahili) as they marched towards Nairobi’s parliament, bringing traffic to a standstill.

Kenya’s government has condemned the rise cases of femicide, pledging to take action as it faces mounting pressure to take action on the issue.

“The government of Kenya must guarantee women and girls safety,” said the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA) in a statement. “Bringing the suspect to ‘justice’ is not sufficient, there is a need to additionally conduct a thorough, effective and dedicated investigation into the circumstances that led to the unfortunate incidents.”

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