“Sisi ni watu sio wanyama” – “We are human beings, not animals.” – This outcry of anger and pain is on the lips of thousands of women across Kenya, as they pour onto the streets to protest unabating femicide in the country. On January 27, scores of women gathered in Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Machakos, Busia, Kilifi, Nakuru, Mombasa, Nyeri, and Lodwar, with this chant, demanding stringent laws against femicide and swift justice.
In solidarity with the on-ground protests, a group of digital crusaders from Nguvu Collective have joined hands to demand the classification of femicide as a distinct and specific crime, separate from murder.
This demand has been made by women for many years now, and evidence to this effect is presented from global civil society organisations and the UN on why femicide is distinct from murder. However, the Kenyan government has not acknowledged these voices and made any progress on amending criminal laws.
Nguvu Change Leaders Josephine Mwende, Stacy Olendo, Valerie Aura, and Harriet Afandi have now jointly appealed to the Government of Kenya to immediately intervene. This proposed distinction, they believe, will pave the way for a more targeted approach to combating gender-based violence (GBV).
“Kenyan women are confronted with a myriad of gender-based violence (GBV) forms, encompassing physical, psychological, sexual, socio-economic, domestic, obstetric, and intimate partner violence. Recent incidents underscore the pressing need for corrective measures to avert more women falling victim to such violence. Our collective commitment has strengthened; united, and unwavering in our stand against the multifaceted gender-based violence targeting women from all backgrounds,” share Nguvu Change Leaders Valerie, Stacy, Josephine & Harriet.
These Change Leaders, who have themselves been victims of GBV and have close family members who’ve been through it, ranging from obstetric violence to abuse of persons with disabilities, assert in a unified manner that only a comprehensive approach from the Government can address this grave issue.
All four Nguvu Change Leaders are digital crusaders. They have already launched online campaigns on various aspects of GBV and have been creating awareness of why systemic solutions are critical for addressing GBV-related issues.
Valerie Aura, a survivor of GBV, is advocating for safe houses where victims of GBV can be isolated and supported to rebuild their lives through an online petition
Josephine Mwende, a mother with cerebral palsy, has initiated an online petition for public hospitals to stop Obstetric violence against expecting mothers with disabilities.
Stacy Olendo, in her online petition, points out the need for a specialised Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Police Units dedicated to addressing crimes against women and children.
Harriet Afandi, an advocate for women’s rights, has launched an online petition, urging Members of Parliament to pass an OBV Bill to protect expectant mothers and ensure their rights during childbirth.
The Change Leaders hope that their efforts will raise awareness about the gravity of gender violence and bring about far-reaching positive change in the country.