Condemning Violence Against Female Public Officials in Kenya


September 9, 2013

The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) along with women’s rights organizations in Kenya condemns the outrageous attack on Honorable Rachel Shebesh at the hands of Governor Kidero Evans in public in his office on September 6th, 2013.

This follows a verbal assault of media personality Caroline Mutoko by Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko on air on September 5th, 2013 as well as Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri beating a female police woman in August 2013. One in every three women in Kenya risks being subject to physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime. Prior to the 2007 elections, 82 cases of violence against women political aspirants were reported. Most cases of violence go unreported – with 55-95% of survivors not seeking help. The pervasiveness of violence against women and violence as a tactic within Kenyan society at large, and the impunity with which it is dealt with is a worrying trend that must be addressed immediately. There must be no justification or impunity for violence. It starts with you.

Governor Kidero – halt the weak and embarrassing denials. Accept that you assaulted a fellow public official, Honorable Rachel Shebesh, offer a public apology, handover the mantle to your deputy as this criminal matter is investigated and concluded. Deal with the consequences of your rash reaction.

Mr. Odinga, as the leader of the political party Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) that Governor Kidero is a card carrying member of, speak out unequivocally against this assault in the same manner you have spoken up about the allocation of finances to counties and a parliamentary system of government. This is not about a hierarchy of needs. Show us where Kenyan women stand for you and ODM.

Mr. President, you have publicly declared your government’s commitment to ensuring economic, physical and social safety for Kenyan women. The Presidency must deliver a strong statement against this assault given that the Gender Directorate falls under your office. Making women a priority is not only about economic resources and quotas, it is about zero tolerance on all forms of violence. It is about holding all public office holders accountable including Nairobi Senator Sonko and Bahati MP Ngunjiri, to a minimum code of conduct that contains firm indicators that show us where Kenyan women stand for you and the Jubilee government.


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