FEMICIDE on the rise as actors call for action

PHOTO:LOLWETV//Members of the Institute in Kisumu during the press conference

Young women have called upon the national government to step in and address cases of femicide in the country before it degenerates.

Melvin Obola of Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI) in charge of digital advocacy says the trend in which women are being killed by men is alarming and needs to be declared a national disaster.

Obola says it is time the government pronounces itself over the matter and works on modalities to stop the senseless killings.

She says women and girls have continued to face the wrath of their male counterparts sometimes leading to death or bodily harm.

“According to UN Women Kenya, an average of eight women died every month in 2019 due to femicide, February being the worst with 17 deaths,” she said.

Speaking in Kisumu during a stakeholders meeting to discuss challenges women face, Obola says this has been heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic containment measures, leaving women and girls vulnerable.

Despite the rise in femicide and GBV cases since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic, Obola says there is an apparent gap in official statistics and data on the number of violent deaths of women in Kenya.

“The media and several organizations only report the cases as they happen (with very many going unreported) and these reports are often written in a way that humanizes the murderers and shames/blames the victims,” said Obola.

Shyleen Momanyi, the Co-Executive Director of the Institute says they will not tire in making their voices heard until women and girls are respected and live a life free from gender based violence.

Momanyi however faulted the political class who has chosen to ignore the plight of women.

“They don’t want to commit to strengthening policies that guard the rights of women and young girls,” she said.

She challenged politicians to use their rallies as they seek support ahead of the 2022 general elections to preach peaceful coexistence among all genders.

Momanyi says justice to the victims has been slow as perpetrators walk freely in the society, committing more crimes.

“We know some of these perpetrators, some live with us, they can’t be charged because of their connections,” she said.

She says women must walk in unity as they demand for protection from the government and urged the media to give them visibility in airing their concerns.

Lydia Odhiambo, who represented the County Government, says the trend in which women are being brutalized is worrying and must be reversed.

Odhiambo says the administration of Governor Anyang Nyong’o is working on a policy ‘Kisumu County Policy on Sexual Gender Based Violence 2019’ that aims at addressing some of the challenges women face.

“As a woman, I am not happy with the daily trends of women being battered, some to death,” she said.

The Institute is getting support to end violence against women and girls in the country from The African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET) and European Union.

By Joseph Ojwang