The year 2024 has begun with a grim reality for Kenyan women: femicide, the brutal killing of women and girls, is on the rise. In a powerful joint statement released in January, a diverse coalition of feminists, human rights defenders, persons with disabilities, and survivors of gender-based violence stood in solidarity with victims and their families, demanding urgent action to address this crisis.

The statement, titled “No More Bloodshed: A Collective Action Against Femicide in Kenya,” presents a strong and unified front against this heinous crime. It transcends individual causes and backgrounds, embracing an intersectional feminist perspective that recognizes the inter-connectedness of various forms of oppression faced by women.

Acknowledging the Pervasive Shadow of Femicide

The statement highlights recent tragic cases like the murders of Starlet Wahu Mwangi, Rita Waeni, and Malkia, drawing a stark connection between individual tragedies and a larger societal problem rooted in gender inequality and ingrained patriarchal norms. The collective asserts that addressing these deep-rooted issues requires a concerted effort from individuals, communities, and institutions across Kenya.

A Call for Comprehensive Action

Emphasizing the fundamental right to security and freedom enshrined in the Kenyan Constitution, the statement condemns femicide as a profound failure of both the state and society to uphold human rights obligations. It directs a strong appeal to the Kenyan government, urging President William Ruto, Cabinet Secretary Prof. Kithure Kindiki, and State Department Head Hon Aisha Jumwa to declare femicide a national emergency and a threat to national security.

The coalition demands immediate and decisive action, proposing a comprehensive government-led anti-femicide campaign that tackles the issue from a multi-pronged approach. This includes:

  • Strengthening legal frameworks: The group calls for the creation of a specific legal category for femicide within the Penal Code, ensuring proper investigation, prosecution, and sentencing for perpetrators.
  • Enhancing safety nets: Strengthening support systems for women facing violence, including accessible shelters, crisis hotlines, and trauma-informed counselling services.
  • Public awareness and education: Launching nationwide campaigns to raise awareness about femicide, promoting gender equality, and challenging harmful gender norms.
  • Empowering communities: Engaging men and boys in the fight against gender-based violence, fostering bystander intervention programs, and creating safe spaces for open dialogue.

A Collective Future Beyond Fear

The statement concludes with a powerful call to action, urging all Kenyans to play their part in building a just and equitable society where no woman or girl fears for their life simply because of their gender. It is a clarion call for unity, demanding that the collective power of the Kenyan people rise above the shadow of femicide and reclaim a future free from violence and fear.