What Men Need to Understand About Femicide in Kenya

In the heart of Kenya, an epidemic sweeps through the streets, homes, and the lives of countless individuals. Femicide, the gender-based killing of women and girls, stands as a grim

What Men Need to Understand About Femicide in Kenya
  • PublishedJanuary 31, 2024

In the heart of Kenya, an epidemic sweeps through the streets, homes, and the lives of countless individuals. Femicide, the gender-based killing of women and girls, stands as a grim testament to the inequalities and dangers disproportionately faced by women. A shadow of profound grief lingers, cast by the relentless wave of femicide that haunts. The cries for justice, muffled by the slow grind of the legal wheels, echo the torment endured by families who hold onto the fragile thread of hope.

This issue is not confined to distant statistics or anonymous stories; it is a stark reality that affects families, communities, and the very fabric of our nation. As we delve into this sensitive topic, men must understand their pivotal role in acknowledging, addressing, and ultimately
combating this crisis.

The Stark Reality: Statistics that Illuminate the Crisis
The numbers related to femicide in Kenya are not just statistics; they are a reflection of the lives lost and the pervasive threat that looms over women in our society. The reality of femicide in Kenya, particularly between the years 2023 and 2024, is profoundly unsettling.

Data meticulously compiled from reputable sources paints a grim picture of the intimate nature of these crimes. The majority of femicide cases involve individuals closely connected to the victims, with intimate partners, relatives, or friends being the most common perpetrators.

Notably, 75 per cent of these killings are committed by someone known to the victim, revealing a disturbing trend of violence within personal relationships. Intimate partners, especially husbands and boyfriends, emerge as the most frequent offenders. In contrast, only about 15 per cent of the femicide cases involve perpetrators who are strangers to the victims, underscoring the prevalence of domestic and intimate partner violence.

What is particularly alarming is the revelation that the majority of these killings occur in what should be the safest place for anyone – their home. Approximately 80 per cent of these homicides take place within the home, a space that tragically transforms into a perilous environment for many women. The prevalence of domestic violence preceding these murders indicates a pattern of abuse that escalates to the most tragic outcome. The data also highlights that the largest demographic of femicide victims in Kenya are women aged 18 to 40, signalling a specific vulnerability of younger women to this form of violence.

The Misconception of Risk
A prevalent misconception is that women put themselves at risk or provoke such outcomes. This could not be further from the truth. The stark reality is that it is not about what women do or do not do; women do not put themselves at risk, the risk exists because they are women; it is about a society that has normalised aggression and discrimination against women to the point where their safety is perpetually at stake. Being a woman should not be synonymous with vulnerability or danger, yet, for women in Kenya, this is the daily norm.

Addressing the Issue: From Acknowledgement to Action
Community Education and Sensitization:

For Men: It begins with understanding and acknowledging the issue. Men must engage in
open and honest discussions about gender inequality, respect, and the value of women in
society. Programs and workshops that focus on redefining masculinity, promoting gender
equity, and teaching conflict resolution can be transformative.

For Everyone: Community programs should also focus on educating everyone about the
signs of abuse, the importance of intervention, and the resources available for those in need.

Legal and Policy Reforms:
The need for stringent laws and a swift justice system is more pressing than ever, especially
in light of the disheartening statistics regarding the enforcement and resolution of femicide
cases. The current legal framework demands substantial reinforcement to ensure the
protection and justice for women. It is imperative to not only strengthen the laws but also
address the concerning delays in the judicial process.

Reports indicate that, on average, it takes a staggering 1900 days for femicide cases to conclude and for the perpetrators to be sentenced. This delay not only denies timely justice but also exacerbates the suffering of the
victims’ families. To combat this, it is essential to ensure law enforcement is not only adequately trained to handle such sensitive cases with the urgency and care they require but
also well-equipped with the necessary resources.

Additionally, enhancing the efficiency of the judicial process and ensuring the availability of legal support for victims are crucial steps towards creating a robust system that stands firm against femicide and champions the causeof justice promptly and effectively

Support Systems:
Establishing robust support systems, including shelters, hotlines, and counselling services, is
essential. These resources not only provide immediate safety and support but also empower
women to reclaim their lives.

Economic Empowerment:
Economic dependency is a significant barrier to escaping abusive situations. Programs
focused on women’s education, skill development, and employment opportunities can
provide the independence necessary to leave dangerous environments.

The Role of Every Individual:
While policy and systemic changes are crucial, the transformation begins at an individual
level. It’s about the everyday choices we make, the conversations we have, and the norms we
challenge. It’s about men standing up, not just as allies, but as active participants in the fight
against gender-based violence. It’s about creating an environment where respect and equality
aren’t just ideals but lived realities.

Understanding femicide in Kenya is not just about comprehending statistics or legal frameworks; it’s about recognizing the value of human life and the right to safety and dignity. As a nation, our strength lies in our unity and our willingness to address uncomfortable truths. By taking active and passive measures to support women and fight against femicide, we are not just saving lives; we are creating a legacy of respect, equality, and justice for future generations. It is in this twilight of sorrow that we must strengthen our resolve, to weave a tapestry of compassion and justice, ensuring that the darkness of these times is met with the unwavering light of our collective determination to protect, to heal, and to honour the lives of all women.


Written By
Muinde Brian