Kenya femicide: A woman’s murder exposes the country’s toxic online misogyny

Kenyan women shout slogans as they participate in a feminist march, held to call a halt to the nation's femicide
Image caption,Gender-based violence is a major concern in Kenya

By Danai Nesta Kupemba

BBC News

The brutal murder of a young Kenyan woman at a short-term rental apartment has sparked outrage and exposed the violent “manosphere” perpetuating misogyny online in the country.

The woman was dismembered and her remains were stuffed into a plastic bag, according to a police report seen by the BBC. The police are investigating but the suspect is still at large.

The case has left Amnesty International Kenya executive director Irungu Houghton feeling “shocked and outraged”.

“Another women in her 20s who will not get to see her 40s,” he said.

Less than two weeks ago, a Kenyan socialite was also murdered in a short-term rental apartment in the capital, Nairobi.


Gender-based violence is a major concern in Kenya. In 2022 at least 34% of women said they had experienced physical violence, according to a national survey.

This latest killing has shed light on a dark corner of Kenya’s social media which has been described as the “manosphere”, where many comments have been shared blaming the women for their own deaths.

A “manosphere” is a network of online platforms that focuses on promoting masculinity and works in opposition to feminism.

One Kenyan man on X, formerly known as Twitter, said: “I honestly think no amount of activism will stop femicide.”

He added that it was up to “ladies to put their safety first”, claiming it was the only “feasible option”.

In response to the rampant victim blaming, “STOP KILLING WOMEN” began trending in Kenya on X.

One woman on X said: “Can’t believe we’re still seeing stories of what women should and shouldn’t do when men should actually stop killing women first,” adding that “It’s really so simple.”

Kenyan MP Esther Passaris told the BBC she was not surprised at the victim-blaming online because Kenya is a patriarchal society, and looks down on women.

She says that as a woman in the public eye, she has been the target of derogatory language and is often called a “prostitute”.

For many campaigners, the response from Kenyan men online is not uncommon.

Mr Houghton told the BBC these comments were not simply isolated cases of misogynistic men but were indicative of a broader culture of “woman-hating”.

“Social media and SMS platforms are the new public square. Public spaces for public debate. Kenya society remains divided on what drives sexual and gender-based violence.

“For some, female victim-blaming and for others the blanket condemnation of men are acceptable arguments,” Mr Houghton said.

Onyango Otieno, a 35-year-old activist, who challenges dominant harmful narratives of heteromasculinty, told the BBC that men spew derogatory language because the “promise of patriarchy” is being removed as women demand greater equality.

He says Kenyan men have been socialised to believe their place is above women, but the rise of feminism has left many men feeling emasculated or displaced.

“Many men were not taught or educated on how to coexist with women as equal human beings,” Mr Otieno sighs.

He says many men are struggling with this reality. The “manosphere” is in a sense a way to fight for the “promise of patriarchy”.

“The world has evolved in so many ways. Men have not,” he says decisively.

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