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Female candidates running in Kenyan elections suffer abuse and assault – SABC News

Liz Njue, a Kenyan psychologist who wanted to run for a county assembly seat, had just arrived to vote in her party’s primaries when her opponents attacked her, tearing her hair and ripping her blouse. He fled without a vote and lost the race.

According to the Kenya Women’s Parliamentary Association, Njue is one of dozens of female candidates who were physically assaulted during the campaign for the August 9 presidential, legislative and local elections.

Such violence deters the most determined women from competing, said Mercy Mwangi, the association’s program coordinator, adding that most cases go unreported.

“People are saying, ‘We want women in politics, we want more women in these political places.’ But how will they get them if they are humiliated?” said the 39-year-old Njue.

He reported the assault to the police, but said he was not arrested. Police spokesman Bruno Isohi Shioso said Njau’s case remains open and active.

It is not clear who is organizing most of the attacks, but the candidates suspect their competitors. None of the major political parties responded to requests for comment on the issue.

Violence against women is not limited to the political arena. According to the Gender Violence Recovery Center at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital, nearly half of Kenyan women experience gender-based violence.

Dead game

Candidates say they are constantly intimidated.

Mary Mugure, a former sex worker, received threatening phone calls and text messages while running for county assembly this year. In November, he was attacked by two men on motorcycles while he was walking down the street.

“It was just to intimidate me into stepping down,” said Mugure, who continued to campaign but lost the nomination.

According to a 2020 study by Cambridge University Press, the constitutional requirement established a decade earlier – that no single gender should have more than two-thirds of elected or appointed positions – may have backfired against women.

The quota was never met. There are 75 women in the 349-member lower house, including 47 seats specifically reserved for women. Women make up about a third of the upper house. Only three of the 47 county governors are women.

No woman has served as president or vice president of Kenya, although one of the current presidential candidates, Raila Odinga, has a female running mate.

In neighboring Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, more than a third of parliamentarians are women, the Inter-Parliamentary Union said. Ethiopia and Tanzania have female presidents.

Fight on

Sometimes there is a happy ending. Sarah Korere, a lawmaker for the Laikipia North Constituency, was assaulted by a fellow Member of Parliament in 2016.

The following year, she finally took her place, climbing from a reserved women’s seat to the mainstream—a move that involved a significantly larger budget. He used that money and donations to build a new school, he said.

His attacker was sentenced to one year in prison in 2020, but was released after three months. Now he’s trying to get his seat back — but he’s more polite these days, Korere said.

The opponent, Matthew Lempurkel, could not be reached. His attorney, James Orengo, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

“When (Lempurkel) went to jail, it was a very good message,” he said. “It was a victory for Kenyan women.”

Female candidates running in Kenyan elections suffer abuse and assault – SABC News

Source link Female candidates running in Kenyan elections suffer abuse and assault – SABC News

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