Africa | Activists in the streets against femicide

The start of 2024 was marked by a new wave of feminicides in Kenya. Thousands of people marched in the streets of different cities across the country in February to denounce the violence. Waving signs: “Stop killing us!” and “Say their name.”




What there is to know

The number of feminicides recorded in 2022 worldwide was the highest in two decades.

Countries on the African continent are particularly affected by this violence.

Activists, particularly in Kenya, are mobilizing to demand change.

“We had experienced a wave of feminicides in 2019 and we had organized a march, but this time we came together and said to ourselves: women are being killed in this country, are we angry enough to go out into the streets and talk ? explains Njeri Migwi, a Kenyan activist, over the phone. Enough to draw attention to this problem and obtain legislative policy on this particular issue? »

Mme Migwi is the director and co-founder of Usikimiye – “don’t stay silent” in Kiswahili – an organization that helps victims of gender-based violence.

For the month of January alone, she calculates that at least 32 feminicides were committed in her country.

PHOTO NATALIA JIDOVANU, THE NEW YORK TIMES ARCHIVES

Njeri Migwi, director of Usikimiye, an organization that supports victims of gender-based violence in Kenya

I believe that gender-based violence should be declared a national disaster, and resources should be allocated for this crisis.

Njeri Migwi, director of Usikimiye

Kenyan politicians have denounced the violence, but President William Ruto has yet to speak publicly on the subject.

Rise worldwide

Kenya is far from being the only country where the number of feminicides is causing concern.

The latest report on feminicides produced by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UN Women, based on figures for the year 2022, shows an increase in the number of murders of women and girls in the world. Nearly 89,000 femicides were recorded in one year, the highest figure in two decades. Data which could be largely underestimated, these crimes being difficult to count.

PHOTO NATALIA JIDOVANU, THE NEW YORK TIMES ARCHIVES

Last February, hundreds of Kenyans participated in a vigil in Nairobi to break the silence on violence against women.

Although the majority of murders committed everywhere target men and boys, women and girls are more affected by violence inside the home.

“While the overall number of homicides worldwide has started to decline after a peak in 2021, the number of homicides of women is not decreasing,” reads the report, published in November1. Most of these killings of women and girls are gender-related, and more than half of all female homicides are committed by intimate partners or other family members. »

Continent

In absolute numbers, the number of victims on the African continent surpassed that of Asia in 2022.

Activists are mobilizing to demand change. In Algeria, for example, activists are calling for the abolition of clauses which allow attackers to obtain forgiveness from their victim in contexts of domestic violence – which stops the legal process.

In South Africa, a new bill should strengthen existing legislation in this area.

PHOTO NARDUS ENGELBRECHT, ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES

Protesters denouncing gender-based violence in Cape Town, South Africa, 2020

Gender-based violence and femicide were declared a “national crisis” in the country at a 2018 summit bringing together South African government officials and cabinet members. The level of violence against women had sparked anger.

South Africa

Despite this, nine women were killed every day in this country in 2021-2022, on average, according to data from the South African Police Service. A slight increase compared to the previous year’s figures.

“It’s a very violent country basically,” says Sabrina Walter, who founded the organization Women for Change in 2016 in Cape Town.

She welcomes the changes in the laws, but notes problems with daily application.

Our police system doesn’t work, neither does our justice system, so we have all these really good laws on paper, but what we see on the ground is something else.”

Sabrina Walter, founder of Women for Change

It remains difficult for many women to report domestic violence and to be taken seriously by the police. Corruption and lack of awareness of legislative changes also play a role, she emphasizes.

With The cross And The New York Times

Consult the report on feminicides (in English)


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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