2019 was a really dark year. According to Counting Dead Women Kenya, 46 women were victims of femicide in the four-month period between 1st January – 2nd May 2019. The most shocking of these cases involved a medical student who was hacked to death by her boyfriend in broad daylight in a university compound.
This violence is not restricted to 2019 of course. Data obtained from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics estimates that 40% of Kenyan women aged 15-49 years old experience domestic violence at least once in their lifetimes and that 1 in 4 will have experienced domestic violence in the last 12 months. Kenya has a long history when it comes to violence against women and girls and this year it has only risen further .
Shocking reports about gruesome murders of women have led people to victim-blame to justify their deaths.
Research suggests that these people victim-blame because they struggle to reject their comforting worldview that good will be rewarded and evil punished.
Conversations on social media about the deaths of these women show how as a society, we are quick to judge and then blame the victims. The worse the unfairness, the more we are then tempted to justify the unfairness by looking to find blame in the victim. The media is at the forefront of the sensationalism of these cases and of spreading victim-blaming attitudes and language.
As a result, there is very little public pressure to support the victims or prosecute the perpetrators. Parents and families go through untold emotional and psychological torture associated with the sudden loss of their loved ones. They grieve and they seek justice, but society forgets and moves on. It has caused a horrible complacency in our society and it is destroying the moral fiber of our country.
Let us not tire to stand up and speak out against violence. Let us not forget that in our silence, we are actually complicit in creating a world full of inequality, hate and the violation of the basic human rights of our sisters, friends, aunties, daughters, cousins and mothers.
Join us this 16 Days of Activism to say enough is enough; to say no more victim blaming. It’s not her fault.