On August 6, three days before the August 9 election, two human rights organizations issued a warning against women’s victimisation. They said that violence had occurred in Kenya during the election campaign, including verbal assaults, harassment, and even rape.
Despite government warnings and promises to address the issue, the campaign “has been marred by violence against women”. This’s according to a joint statement from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).
The “several” rape incidents that took place during the campaign are mentioned. Four of the incidents took place outside of a June 19 meeting that was ultimately canceled.
Tuesday will see Kenya’s general elections, during which 22.1 million voters will select the country’s president. They will also be members of parliament, governors, and approximately 1,500 local elected officials.
The two organizations claim that female candidates, three of whom are running as presidential candidates’ running mates, have been “confronted with sexist and aggressive language, (…) gender stereotyping, online gender abuse, and sexual harassment.”
They contend that “these strategies are used consciously to bar female politicians or female candidates from entering the political arena.”
In Kenya, elections frequently lead to violent incidents, including sexual and gender-based violence.
Human rights organizations claim that at least 900 people experienced sexual assault, including gang rape and castration. This they said occurred during the 2007–2008 post-election crisis, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,100 people.
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) Statement
According to KHRC, which recorded 201 cases of election-related sexual and gender-based violence, sexual violence against women and girls was pervasive during the unrest that followed the 2017 election.
Security forces were used in more than half of the attacks. However, the statement claimed that “to date, no action has been taken by the government to ensure justice for victims.”
Sheila Muwanga, vice president of FIDH, stated that “the government’s failure to stop the targeting of women in politics and to hold perpetrators accountable (…) has allowed the violence to recur.”
UN experts pleaded with Kenyan officials last month to “ensure that women can freely participate in the electoral process without discrimination, harassment, or fear of a possible recurrence of sexual and gender-based violence.”
A Nairobi court mandated that the government compensate four women who were assaulted following the 2007 election in 2020.