Femicide in Kenya – a symptom of a cultural shift or a lost generation?

It has been hard to ignore the overflow of grief, insults, insensitivities, demands and counter demands during the last months. Between January 1 and April 15, over 50 women have been murdered in the confines of intimate relationships. These >50, are the cases that have been reported in the media. If we know Kenya, there are many other cases that never reach the mainstream media, because families, relatives, and friends of the families collude to hide the real reason a woman died.

Intimate relationships are the spaces where women should feel safe, However, Kenyan women are being murdered by their partners, husbands, partners and husbands’ lovers, exes, stalkers etc Those women who are not murdered have been killing themselves – citing stressful domestic conditions, abandonment and abuse that suffocates and kills all hope.

The Nobel Peace prize winners Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad mentioned this in their Nobel speech. They mentioned Kenya name. According to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report, over 70 percent of all women intentionally killed in Kenya in 2018 were killed by intimate partners or other family members. The report indicated that little progress has been made in preventing such murders.Bloggers and even radio presenters have been quick to comment and speculate on the WHYs of these murders; some even going as far as to predict that this is just the beginning. It will get worse if women don’t follow the rules the men are setting. High on this list of rules is Money, specifically, the exchange of money between women and men.

  1. If a man offers you money, any amount of money; and you accept the money;
  2. If a man invites you for a meal or a drink and you accept it;
  3. If you borrow money from a man, and he gives it to you;
  4. If a man buys you a gift, it doesn’t matter how expensive that gift is (it can be a car or it can be a bracelet);
  5. If a man takes you on vacation, and pays or it;
  6. If a man pays your school fees, whether you requested it or not

In the 5 scenarios above, you should be aware that you have just sold sex which quickly puts you into a catch 22 situation. You cannot win.

  • If you do NOT want to pay with sex, you are dead. Many men and women have said.
  • If you pay with sex, you may inadvertently have declared a commitment with said man in which you are required to remain loyal for life. Same men and women say.

It does not matter whether you have married the man or not – the rule applies as soon as money moves from his mpesa account to yours; or from his mpesa account to something that you consumed or enjoyed – whether you requested for it or not. The phase or depth of your relationship does not matter either – you may be dating, courting, cohabiting, married, divorced, separated, or, he may just be stalking you.

In recent years, men’s plight has been described as stressed, neglected, ignored, and un-considered. Men claim that their lives are threatened by women, alas, I cannot find any proof of it. Searching for statistics of Kenyan men murdered by Kenyan women during 2019, I came up with 1 murder case in Ndhiwa. Plus the highly publicized case of the murderous beauty queen in 2018.

Did I miss something?

Some social analysts and opinion builders have commented on the neglect boys have suffered in the last years. Immense focus has been placed on the girl child, leaving the boy child exposed and un-protected and un-supported. Fathers have been too busy chasing younger women, and mothers too preoccupied with the bitterness, ignorance and shame caused by the same neglectful older men. Mothers are barely equipped to teach young men about the new emerging society, because they themselves are raised in another society – where women were women, and men were men.

Women persevered, forgave and enabled men in co-dependent relationships, while men provided, abused and misused the women’s perseverance

Women, especially young beautiful ladies have been blamed for using and misusing men for luxuries the young ladies would not afford by themselves. Or for cheating with sugar daddies who provide the luxuries the young men cannot afford. Those young ladies that have their own income and are not dependent on the men’s favours are blamed for their independence, freedom. They are insulted as slay queens or feminists who just lead men on without needing the men in the long term. If you reject the money or gifts the man is offering, he is hurt, injured, devastated too – “who do you think you are?” They ask.

“So you can imagine a life without me. A life with someone else?!”

Both men and women have made jokes about femicide – women who are mothers to daughters, sisters, friends etc are playing patriarchy-princesses who will do anything to please the men they want to please. Men who have wives, girlfriends, sisters etc are displaying all their patriarchal and misogynistic values and opinions

Parents and loved-ones have had to endure lies being spread their murdered daughters – everything from infecting with HIV, to them being money-grabbing sluts. Gold diggers out to ruin innocent men

In all this, we all know that the truth, the whole truth, lies in-between. Change that went too fast – not fast enough for women, and not slow enough for the men. Change has been brewing for a while and it is change that cannot be stopped, avoided, ignored or trivialized – just like the women’s right to vote, to divorce, to have their own Identity Cards (ID), to own property etc. Many are very scared and intimidated by change, because they do not feel ready to flow with the new expectations, rules of engagement and in some cases, the loss of privilege

Kenya is a deeply traditional and patriarchal society. In patriarchy, we create misogyny – where men think they are better than women, stronger than women, smarter than women, deserve more than women. Entitled. In a society where many women are marching towards equality and equity, the female becomes the male’s enemy number 1. And women easily turn against each other when the male gaze rests on them.

Men are in agreement that women are not as they used to be; and some women are trying to help in keeping women in the roles they always held – but are they also in agreement about how to deal with it?

  • They do not cook as our mothers did for our dads
  • They do not obey as our mothers did with our dads
  • They are not submissive as our mothers were with our dads
  • They do not wait on us as our mothers did for our dads
  • They do not respect us as our mothers with our dads
  • They do not stay with us for better or for abuse as our mothers with our dads

The global community, Kenya included, is undergoing another change that will not be stopped, not even by violence – actually, the violence may aid the quick progression of this change. A revolution, which demands that men and the women who do not agree with the ongoing revolution choose between being:

  1. the murderous of progress, or
  2. the catalysts of change.

And as always, women always have had to do more, and in this, they have to choose to become:

  1. partners and allies with men in interdependent relationships – taking and occupying spaces of power, making their voices strong enough to be heard, preparing a softer, safer world for their daughters – OR –
  2. continue to be men’s accessories.

A friend even tried to explain to me how his mother was beaten, silenced, and neglected by his dad but she still stayed. For them – the children. She had no income, she owned no land, she could not educate her children or offer the boys an inheritance. She could not bare the shame of a broken home – and her family was very active in the PCEA church. Currently, she can enjoy to see her grow up kids but her relationship with her lifetime husband is still estranged. They meet at weddings, dowry parties, funerals etc but her joy is knowing that she stayed for her children.

Most women do not need to make these sacrifices anymore, and they definitely do not put the church and its attendees, traditional values or bible verses before their own progress.

I end with questions, not answers:

  1. What happens when women become the objects where men can direct their hate, fear, disdain?
  2. What happens when men become what women fear, hate and/or disrespect the most?
  3. How can we move from status-quo to the unavoidable new world, without soaking the road there with women’s blood?
  4. Is this the lost generation, or the inevitable crossroad of change

References:

  1. https://cnyakundi.com/statement-fida-feminist-organisation-releases-statement-on-rise-of-femicide-in-kenya/
  1. https://ksnmedia.com/2019/03/revealed-the-shocking-figures-of-femicide-in-kenya/
  1. https://www.theplatform.co.ke/2018-nobel-peace-prize-award-shines-spotlight-on-femicide-in-kenya-2/

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