Digital spaces are fuelling femicide cases

Kenyan women and human rights organizations match along the streets of Nairobi to protest against the rising femicide cases in the country. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

The rising cases of femicide have raised concerns about the safety of women in Kenya. In a patriarchal society, women are in charge of their own security.

As is expected of Kenya, everyone has become an expert on the issue, with many people giving unsolicited advice about what women "should do" or what the victims "should have done" to prevent their deaths.

Some have been asking women not to go on dates with strangers, yet it’s the stranger that you meet that becomes a friend. Others have told women to return home early and yet others have been condemning women for being women to the extent of slut-shaming the victims. That was too much!

Further, people actively participate in violating the privacy of victims of femicide and other women in the digital spaces by interacting with crime scene content by liking, retweeting, and sharing the raw footage and pictures. Making light of these incidents and making funny comments, fuels the notion that the perpetrators need to take matters into their own hands. 

Femicide is an escalation of online gender-based violence (GBV). Online GBV does not spare any woman. A good example was the high number of female politicians who faced a lot of online harassment during the 2022 election campaigns to discourage them from vying.

It is through doxing, personal relationships or stalking that these cases escalate from online platforms to physical attacks. The most cringing part about femicide is how it has been glorified as a form of "correcting the societal wrongs".

Talking about the lost ethics and how girls are "actively selling themselves" to strangers. How many times have you witnessed a woman or girl posting some beautiful picture of themselves and the next thing you see, it’s them being harassed in the comment section?

One may start with "Women like you need to be taught a lesson", or "It is a shame that you need to display your body to get likes and followers", or "This behaviour needs to be corrected by ripping off clothes so that you stay naked as you wish". The funny bit, it is the same men from the public comment section that go to the inbox and want to have more personal information and relationship with the lady.

Some perpetrators get ideas from such comments and start planning their attacks. The sad bit is that even with the arresting of the perpetrators, the cases are either delayed in court or the perpetrators are released back into society due to "lack of evidence for investigation".

Grieving families that need closure drop the case, or lack funds to keep the case going. It is this inaction that fuels femicide. The community judgment also never spares the victim’s family. You find raw and disturbing pictures being shared on various social media platforms in the rush to get the ‘raw’ news.

What people forget is the hurt of the loved ones seeing their family member or friend being socially ridiculed and judged by a crowd that doesn’t know even half of the story!

We can help reduce online GBV and eventually stop femicide by being involved. Encourage positive online relationships by promoting supportive online communities and social networks. Advocate for strong online moderation against cyberbullying, harassment, and violence against women.

Ms Nyadzua is a cybersecurity consultant and a digital security trainer at