24th February, 2019
ORGANIZERS: FEMINISTS IN KENYA
AGENDA: That the Kenyan government declares Violence against Women a National Emergency, start an open and honest discourse around it and develop a National Action Plan on Violence against Women.
CONTACT DETAILS (not included here for privacy reasons):
TO: His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta
Cc : All the 47 Women Representatives
On 8th March, 2019, the womxn (both cisgender and transgender womxn) and gender non-confirming people will deliver this memorandum to the Government of Kenya.
We, the women of this country are traumatized, angry, hurt and exhausted from the frequent news of fellow women dying every few hours. There is a war against our bodies. There is a war against Kenyan women and together we are raising our voices to say NO to the menace that is femicide and Violence against Women. We are concerned because the government, the women representatives, our stakeholders are not open about this problem.
We hear about domestic violence in the news, a woman’s hands being chopped off, a woman killed by her husband, an expectant woman beaten to death and no consequences follow these perpetrators. The narrative has been normalized to that of women must be respectful to their husbands so as not to be beaten. Why has our humanity, our dignity and our entire existence been reduced to mere respect for our husbands?
We are concerned because we live on hope. Hope is our mantra. We get into a taxi, we hope that we won’t end up dead before arriving at our destination. We speak up boldly on our rights, we hope that we won’t be targeted and murdered.We go to hospitals to give birth, we cross our fingers and hope that we won’t die because of poor maternal health services.
We get married or date, we hope that our partners do not turn on us and kill us dead. We go out like everybody does to let loose, we hope to the heavens above and the universe and everything and anything we can pray to that we do not get raped and end up lying dead in a pool of our own blood. Yes, it is that grotesque. Welcome to being black and female.
But why should this be the case when we have women leaders who we voted for to ensure that we don’t have to live like this? Why are Kenyan women unsafe? Why do Kenyan women have to die and the whole nation moves on like those deaths do not matter?
Well, we are here to tell you that our slain sisters matter. These deaths are dear to our hearts because they were women like us. They were black like us. They were expectant like us. They were married like us. They were drinking like us. They were educated like us. They were women. They were human. And they did not deserve to die such preventable deaths!
We are further concerned because the women representatives seem to not be pained by the rampant violence against their gender. Your work is to promote the interests of women and girls. Your work is to come up with laws that specifically target women and girls. Your work is to sponsor bills and motions that redress any disadvantage suffered by women and girls.
Why are you complicit in our pain?
Why won’t you stand in solidarity with the Kenyan women who voted you in?
Those are two questions that women in this nation demand answer to.
As we await your response, we hereby declare boldly that we speak for Carol Mwatha who was killed under mysterious circumstances. We speak for Sharon Otieno, an expectant young woman who was murdered in cold blood and a governor implicated in the murder, We raise our voice for the unidentified woman who was found hanged, naked and raped on an electric post in Kirinyaga.
We lift our fists high for Mary Wambui who was discovered in a dam, blunt force trauma to the head. We weep in solidarity for Mildred Odira whose only mistake was hailing the wrong taxi. We mourn for our feminist sister Maureen Monchari whose body was found at her house after being strangled. We weep, we mourn, we yell, we stand with all the deceased women who have been let down by a nation that does not care about Violence against half of its citizens.
Feminists in Kenya.
- A strong message from the office of the President declaring Violence against Women a national emergency, that it is widespread and that it can no longer be tolerated in Kenya. The deadline for this is 30th March, 2019.
- A commitment never to appoint any individual who has been implicated as a perpetrator of violence to cabinet or a lead government institution.
- A review of past laws, action plans and discourse on violence against women and why they have failed miserably. The participants for this review must include new stakeholders who are all women. We recommend that the young women delegation from Feminists in Kenya be part of this review taskforce.
- The Kenyan government should include, inject and involve feminist discourse in various institutions of the government. Feminism embraces values which are progressive like inclusion, diversity, equality, dignity, empathy and compassion and government workers, Civil Societies, Human Rights Organizations should be involved in serious discourse on Transformative Feminist Leadership that will aim to disrupt the power structures that have kept women oppressed for years.
- A development on a National Action Plan against Violence and femicide. Gender diversity is key in this taskforce. We highly recommend women to be in charge of coming up with an action plan to ensure the safety of Kenyan women.
- Provision of a police department that will solely deal with violence, femicide and rape cases against women. The police involved in this should be well trained on how to handle sensitive rape cases, violence and femicide that are reported in this department.
- Consistent, tight and punitive laws that ensure that perpetrators are not handed light sentences, this also means that the courts also have to actually implement the already existing laws consistently.
- A media campaign sponsored by the government that takes awareness of what violence against women entails to grassroot levels. This needs to happen NOW.
- Free legal awareness to survivors of violence on the legal steps they can take to ensure that they access justice.