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violence against women

Silencing Women

Tracking Femicide Cases reported in Kenyan Newspapers from 2016 to date.

Individuals, Not Statistics

In the wake of femicide, we refuse to let victims be reduced to mere statistics. Silencing Women, our groundbreaking living database, humanizes the tragic toll of women killed by their partners or family members in Kenya. Femicide is the killing of women and girls with gender-related motivations, and is the most extreme form of gender violence on women.

This site is product of Africa Data Hub in partnership with Odipodev and Africa Uncensored.

Keeping Count of the Murders?

In recent years, media reports have shown a concerning rise in cases of women being killed by their intimate partners. Despite this, there has been a notable absence of consolidated data to provide a comprehensive picture. Over the past months, we meticulously examined news reports from reputable Kenyan sources, compiling over 500 cases spanning from January 2016 to December 2023. Through this comprehensive collection of killings, it becomes evident that these tragedies are far more than have been identified. And that the cases are not isolated; instead, they reveal recurring patterns, indicating a deeper and more systemic issue.

Who is killing the women?

Intimate partners and family members perpetrate the majority of killings. Our analysis shows that in 75% of cases, killings were committed by a person who knew the murdered woman - an intimate partner, relative or friend. Nearly two-thirds of perpetrators were currently or had previously been in an intimate relationship with the victim. Husbands, then boyfriends being the biggest culprits. In only about 15% of cases, the woman was killed by a complete stranger. 

In most cases, the murder of a woman was committed due to a family quarrel. The reason for aggression on the part of a man towards a woman can be anything - any domestic issues or attempts by women to walk away from relationships. At the same time, men justify their actions by saying that they could not restrain themselves or were angry because the woman, in their opinion, did something wrong.

Where are the women getting killed?

Home, traditionally a place of refuge, transforms into an unsafe space for women. Approximately 80% of homicides take place within the confines of a home. In this context, "home" refers to a shared space between the victim and the perpetrator, which could involve couples cohabiting or situations where either the victim or the suspect frequents the residence.

Which Counties are leading?
Nairobi, Kiambu, and Nakuru Counties have reported the highest incidences of femicide-related killings. However, it's crucial to note that due to data limitations and uneven news coverage across the country, this doesn't necessarily indicate that they have the highest overall murder rates. Some counties either underreport murder cases or omit details about the circumstances, making it challenging to determine if the incidents qualify as femicide. Additionally, certain areas lack news correspondents or media bureaus, resulting in limited local coverage that may not reach the national level. This underscores the complexity of obtaining a comprehensive understanding of femicide trends nationwide.

A pattern of abuse

Our analysis shows that most often than not, the murders of women are often preceded by domestic violence. Many of the murdered women were systematically abused by their husbands and partners. A reflection of the findings of The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Gender related killing of women and girls:“Killings by intimate partners are rarely spontaneous or random, and should be examined as an extreme act on a continuum of gender-related violence that remains underreported and too often ignored.”
But that's not where the violence stops.

The data points out that the women not only suffered from abuse during their lifetime, but were also subjected to brutal murder with a large number of the killings presenting with beatings, mutilations and multiple wounds often inflicted through stabbings.

How are the women killed?

Our data reveals significant patterns in intimate partner and stranger killings. Stabbing and hacking emerge as the predominant methods in intimate partner murders, while strangulation also stands out as the primary cause of death in stranger killings—often following incidents of sexual violence. Disturbingly extreme methods such as hacking, beheading, and burnings have been documented. Notably, the use of firearms is most prevalent when perpetrators are affiliated with law enforcement.

Characteristics of the women dying

While women, in general, face a higher risk of experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) and femicide, the trends in the data show that women aged 18 to 40 form the largest demographic of victims of femicide in Kenya.

Justice Delayed

After an exhaustive examination of the legal processes, we have found that once a perpetrator is arrested and brought to court, it takes an average of 1900 days for a case to be concluded and the suspect sentenced. It's crucial to note that this timeframe does not encompass cases involving appeals, which tend to extend the duration even further.

It is important to acknowledge the limitations of our data collection, which primarily relies on news reports. There are notable gaps as media coverage often highlights initial incidents, including murders and the suspect's first court appearance, but frequently fails to provide ongoing coverage of court proceedings over the years. Prominent cases often receive more attention, potentially overshadowing the prolonged legal processes for others.

Several barriers to justice contribute to these extended timelines. These include the unavailability of witnesses, non-appearance of expert witnesses such as Investigation Officers and medical doctors, missing police files, and compromise of witnesses. Additionally, poor investigations and the transfer of key personnel involved in the criminal trial, including judicial officers, prosecutors, and investigating officers, further exacerbate delays in the pursuit of justice.


This data was obtained through a systematic and meticulous search for femicide cases reported in Kenyan news media between January 2016 to December 2023; it is therefore limited to only femicide cases reported in Kenya’s news websites and reported in English.

The curation was done adhering to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) criteria for identifying gender-motivated murder of women (femicide).

The UNODC’s criteria includes:

  1. The homicide victim had a previous record of physical, sexual, or psychological violence/harassment perpetrated by the author of the killing
  2. The homicide victim was a victim of forms of illegal exploitation, for example, in relation to trafficking in persons, forced labor or slavery
  3. The homicide victim was in a situation where she was abducted or illegally deprived of her liberty
  4. The victim was working in the sex industry
  5. Sexual violence against the victim was committed before and/or after the killing
  6. The killing was accompanied by mutilation of the body of the victim;
  7. The body of the victim was disposed of in a public space
  8. The killing of the woman or girl constituted a gender-based hate crime, i.e. she

To find those articles we first had to know the search terms that would be used to surface relevant articles, and explore which words were consistently used while reporting femicide. By reading through dozens of articles reporting femicide, we identified a constant set of words that are used to describe victims (woman, girl, wife, girlfriend) and the act of murder (murder, murdered, kill, killed).

Using advanced Google Search, we used the syntax (see below) to retrieve all news stories from major Kenyan news outlets with the combination of the two sets of keywords:

  • Words used to describe victim - (woman, girl, wife, girlfriend) 
  • Words used to describe murder - (kills, killed, kill, murdered, murder, death, died, dead).

The websites searched are captured in the Google search syntax below.

The Google search Syntax:

woman OR girl OR wife OR girlfriend AND kills OR killed OR kill OR murdered OR murder OR  death OR died OR dead OR OR OR OR OR OR

Any article combining any of the words from the first set (victim) and the second (murder act) appeared in the results.The results from the search yielded a huge chunk of irrelevant articles given the wide range of search words used (we did this in an effort to ensure no articles are missed). We manually sifted through the list article by article to find the murders that qualify as femicide as per UNODC guidelines. From the filtered cases, we read each article's text to pull out key details such as the victim's name, victim's age, date of murder, location, and scene of murder, relationship with the suspect as well as additional circumstances around the murder. The output was a spreadsheet file where all these details were captured along with the story details such as date of publishing, headline, publisher and full article text. The result of that is the database used in this list. 

We might have missed some cases, but we are continually updating the database. If you know of any case we missed please provide us with the details using this link.

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