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Women’s rights movements ask the State to classify femicide as a National Emergency

More than 150 women’s rights movements have asked the government to declare femicide a national emergency and a threat to national security.

In a joint petition delivered to Nyeri County Commissioner Pius Murugu, they say the recent femicide cases in Airbnbs point to the widespread gender inequality in the country and the lack of effective measures to protect women and girls.

The movements are now asking Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof. Kithure Kindiki and his Gender and Affirmative Action counterpart, Aisha Jumwa to take immediate and decisive action to address the crisis.

“We stand united against femicide, recognizing that its eradication requires a concerted effort from all sectors of society spearheaded by an anti-femicide campaign from the government,” reads the petition in part.

“It is time for decisive action to ensure that no woman or girl in Kenya lives in fear of losing her life simply because of her gender,” continues the petition.

Speaking moments after holding a peaceful march in the streets of Nyeri, the women have also expressed concern over the tendency to downplay the incidents.

According to actress and Human Rights defender Catherine Kamau, the public had turned the recent spate of murders in short-stay accommodations into a moral issue instead of addressing them as a human rights concern.

“The public is saying that the girls should not be going to the Airbnbs and they are pinning it on prostitution. We are just showing how much the public is trivializing this issue, especially men. The issue of femicide is not a moral issue, it is a human rights issue. All we are saying is for men to stop killing women,” said Ms Kamau.

According to Ms. Kamau, the country has recorded 542 femicide deaths since 2016. A total of 245 of those deaths were by husbands and they happened in homes. Another 130 were by boyfriends, while 99 of those were by strangers.

Her sentiment was echoed by Njeri Mwangi from the Coalition for Peace and Gender Champions in Kenya, who also noted that the incidents had adopted an alarming pattern.

Mwangi said that femicide cases were now becoming a common occurrence at the beginning of the year and called for concerted efforts to end the crime.

“Femicide cases have been very popular in January, not just this year but in previous years. We have found ourselves in the streets either championing the right of one of us who has left us because of femicide. For instance, in 2021, we were in the streets because a fellow woman rights’ defender was murdered. And in 2022, the same happened,” she stated.

On his part, the county administrator assured the lobby groups that the government was addressing the short-stay accommodation issue. He noted that the county had not recorded any femicide incidents.

Similarly, Murugu said that the county security team was on high alert to curtail such incidents from happening in the county.

He, however, challenged the women’s rights movements to extend their sensitization campaign to women in rural counties.

“The advocacy you are doing is very critical. We need to sensitize the more vulnerable girls. Our girls need to be sensitive about the dangers that are lurking in the society that we are living in. They should be warned not to be very trusting and they also need to take caution with social media issues,” said Murugu.

Similar marches today will be held in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kilifi, Busia, and Machakos counties under the hashtag #EndFemicideKe.

By Wangari Mwangi  


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