Kenya is shaken by a record number of murders of women: “My daughter is no longer there”

Gender-related killings are the most brutal manifestation of violence against women and girls. Despite decades of activism by women’s rights organizations around the world, increased awareness and action by several countries’ government agencies, it still fails to curb the killing of women worldwide.

Highest number of femicides in 20 years

In 2021, 81,000 women were killed worldwide. 45,000 of them were killed by their partners or their immediate family. In 2022, the highest number of intentional femicides ever was recorded, according to a report by UN Women.

89,000 women. It is the highest number in 20 years.

But the true scale of femicide is likely much higher. In four out of ten cases, there is not enough information to be able to determine that the murders were specifically gender-related.

In the village of Gatanga, Kenya, Grace Wangari was killed in the latest wave of femicides to hit the country. She was stabbed by her boyfriend and bled to death. Her mother, Susan, describes it as “unbearable” to have to bury her daughter. Photo: EBU

Kenya facing dark record year

Africa is the continent particularly affected by femicide which is carried out by related parties, closely followed by Asia.

In Kenya, 14 women have already been murdered in 2024 – precisely because they are women.

– The pain I feel lacks words. She left her children behind, says Susan Wairimu, mother of 24-year-old Grace who was murdered in January.

Between 2017 and 2024, about 500 women were murdered in Kenya according to the investigative platforms Africa Uncensored and Africa Data Hub. A 2022 national survey also found that about a third of Kenyan women, about nine million, have experienced some form of physical violence.

Extensive demonstrations against the violence

Kenya was also shaken two particularly notable murders in January 2024. One on the influencer Starlet Wahu and the other on Rita Waeni, a student at the Nairobi University of Agriculture.

The murders have sparked widespread demonstrations in the country where thousands of people are now demanding that those responsible take action against the widespread violence.

– We hope that the government can help solve this issue that has not been solved, says Tasline Otieno, from the Women in action network.

– We had another demonstration just like this in 2019 – but nothing has happened yet.