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Stop Killing Us! Femicide as Gender Based Violence

Newspapers and social media in Kenya are awash with news of  cases of women being murdered , some by people they know , others by people they met on social media. Sadly , the blame by society is often on the female  with questions asked such as Why was she walking at night?, Why did she go on a date?, Why couldn’t she stay home?, Why didn’t she trust her instincts? .The tendency is to blame the victim while the perpetrator  in some cases goes scot free or there is little  or no blame at all on him. The  perpetrators of these atrocities on women are often mainly men.

According to Counting Dead Women Kenya [1] 46 women were victims of femicide in the four-month period between 1st January – 2nd May 2019, from January – December 2019, 108 women were killed in Kenya[2]. The most shocking of these cases involved  a medical student who was hacked to death  in broad daylight in a university compound[3].Men are also more commonly involved in perpetrating homicide and sexual violence; the perpetrators of serious violence against women are frequently current or former partners (Geneva Declaration Secretariat, 2008; BJS, 2005).

Kenyan women are not blind to the    femicide , they are calling out for justice using hashtags and  speaking out against blaming the victims. Using hashtags such as #StopKillingUs #JusticeforVelvine[4] #Justiceforvesh or on twitter using @countingdeadwomen[5] #EndFemicideNow

Femicide is the intentional murder of women and girls because of their gender. Femicide is mostly either committed by ex-partners due to revenge or current partners, sometimes it is committed by unknown people. According to Article 26 of the Kenyan Constitution, every person has the right to life[6]

The names of murdered women are many , the way they have been murdered gruesome. The toll on their families unthinkable and the pain immeasurable. The murders involve love gone sour  and in some cases women get murdered for  refusing male advances, some of the murders occur when women go on dates never to walk alive on planet earth again , others when the would be perpetrators visit the victims homes. Sometimes the assailant locks the door , the victim unable to escape, at times the murder is done by more than one man, sometimes the victims suffer strangulation. Sometimes the victims cry out for help but neighbours do not come out , this is because they do  not want to interfere with husband and wife matters which society considers to be domestic.

There is also the presumption that when a women is bought for lunch or dinner , it is an automatic ticket to a sexual encounter. Some of the victims are found with multiple stab wounds  such as the case of Grace stabbed 20 times by the husband in 2019.[7] In some cases women are murdered and the perpetrator also commits suicide .Sometimes the murders are so daring and in the presence of a congregation, human beings no longer fear shedding blood , with murder  done as if someone is slaughtering chicken. Take for example the  pastor[8] who  stabbed the wife during a sermon , leaving behind a suicide note as to why he committed this atrocity. The couple was battling over control of the church.

Beryl[9], Velvine[10], Pauline[11] , Ivy[12], Sharon[13]  are all names of women whose lives have been lost , whose dreams have been cut short by people they knew well and  for some by strangers they only met for a short period. These are names of mothers, sisters, nieces and aunts. The above names are just a tip of the ice-berg of the number of women who continue to be killed day in day out not only in Kenya , but the world over.

Some women meet their  would be perpetrators online .Sometimes predators go online and lure women with dates and other promises only to end up killing them.Sady  majority of people have no mercy for  women and girls who get killed .The most vocal and speaking out on these femicide cases are women. Less blame tends to fall on perpetrators with many  people  accusing the murdered women on “ bringing it “ on themselves. Does society imagine the pain  and the questions mothers of the slain women go through?, does society sit back to reflect on the pain of losing a sister , aunt , mother  to a barbaric attack?, why is society quick to blame a victim who can no longer bring out their side of the story?, sometimes society questions why the victim did not fight back or why a mother continued to stay in an abusive relationship.

In some cases , it is not only mothers who get murdered, but they get killed alongside their children[14].In some instances one or two children escape either because they were in school when the atrocity was meted on their mother or had visited a relative at the time of the occurrence or were out playing  in the neighbourhood.

Sometimes victims also get blamed for being at home at the time of the crime or for being intimately involved with the murderers of for accepting money and other favours from these males. Questions are seldom asked as to why  the perpetrator murdered their victim , but questions abound as to why the victim was an easy prey.

It is about time life is given the respect it deserves and victims of femicide stop being blamed. It is time  society stopped the culture of blaming the victim and embraced humanity. Gender based violence of which femicide is  a part is something that can be corrected from  a tender age when boys and young people are taught to respect women , when  society stops to objectify women and treats women as human beings who deserve respect and deserve to be heard.


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[5] ibid










Gender-based Violence
Positive Masculinity
Human Rights
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