On Saturday, thousands of Kenyans took to the streets to protest against femicide, responding to a disturbing increase in killings this January. Reports indicate a surge in femicide cases in 2024, sparking public outrage, debates, and demonstrations across more than ten counties, including Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Uasin Gishu, Homa Bay, Turkana, Kilifi, Kisii, Nyeri, and Machakos.
During the protests, thousands of women in these counties marched, holding placards advocating for an end to femicide, displaying messages such as #StopKillingUs, #EndFemicideKe, and #WeJustWantToLive. Some placards bore the names of women recently killed, with slogans like “Say Their Names” or “SheWasSomeone.” Tens of thousands of online posts demanded an end to this violent trend.
Since 2016, over 500 femicide cases have been recorded in Kenya, though organizations tracking these incidents believe the actual number may be higher due to unreported cases or omissions in police and media reports.
Data from the Africa Data Hub revealed that many femicides were preceded by systemic domestic violence, and most cases were perpetrated by men intimately connected to the victims. Women shared their fears and reasons for protest in the week leading up to the march, citing concerns about safety, trauma from recent deaths, and challenges to women’s autonomy in public discourse.
Protesters demanded legal recognition of femicide as a distinct crime, asserting that categorizing it merely as murder fails to address the unique circumstances shaped by unequal power relations and harmful gender norms.
Maria Angela Maina, a 26-year-old lawyer and gender equality advocate, expressed the significance of increased awareness: “Many people don’t understand what femicide is…the circumstances of these murders are different from normal homicides.” Participants in the protests highlighted the power of collective action in bringing attention to the issue.
However, protesters encountered pushback and threats, exemplified by a video online featuring men opposing the demonstration and making violent threats. Activist Boniface Mwangi urged more men to join the call against femicide, emphasizing the need for a united front to address this crisis. Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris called upon top leaders, including President Ruto, to address the growing femicide crisis.
Report by Jesse Abisheck