“This is a national crisis – we are not doing enough as a country to protect women,” said Audrey Mugeni, the co-founder of Femicide Count Kenya, an NGO that documents the number of women killed across the country each year.
Last year, Femicide Count Kenya recorded 152 killings – the highest in the past five years. Representatives from the nonprofit, which records reported cases only, says the actual number of killings is likely to be much higher.
At least four cases of femicide have occurred since the start of the year. Two gained public attention, including the murder of the 26-year-old Starlet Wahu on 4 January, who was stabbed by a man alleged to be part of a criminal ring, whose members violently extort and rape women they target through dating sites.
Recent murders have sparked widespread social media outrage, with calls for an end to gender-based violence using the hashtags #StopKillingWomen #EndFemicideKe.
However, the incidents were also met with victim blaming; debates on the safety of short-term rentals where the women were killed; and suggestions that women should take greater safety precautions to ward off attacks – views that women’s groups say normalise femicide.