Violence against women in Kenya


Violence against women continues to be a major challenge in Kenya and Kenyans have been urged to join hands in an effort to end this menace. 

According to data from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2009, 39% of Kenyan women have experienced violence since they were aged 15. KDHS also puts the National Female Genital Mutilation prevalence at 27%, with the prevalence in North Eastern at 97%.  The country will continue to lag behind its development goals unless it addresses issues of gender based violence.  This was the message at the launch of the Africa UNiTE Campaign’s Kenya Chapter to end Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Nairobi on 14th and 15th November 2012.

Domestic violence is a serious problem in Kenya. A demographic health survey revealed that at least half of all Kenyan women had experienced violence since the age of 15, with close family members among the most common perpetrators. Many of the Kenyan cultures do not view sexual violence as crim and wife beating is commonplace and often condoned. In Kenya, violence against women goes beyond beatings. It includes forced marriage, dowry-related violence, marital rape, genital cutting, sexual harassment, intimidation, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, forced sterilization, trafficking and forced prostitution.

Domestic violence is threatening many Kenyan families and is unfortunately increasing in our society. Many people, the vast majority of them women, have been injured, disabled and killed as a result of domestic violence. This is unacceptable in today’s society.

We are all capable of making a difference in someone’s life. We are all capable of lending a hand to fellow human beings in distress. That is what Women against domestic violence is all about. We belive that anger makes you small – say NO to domestic violence!

Although the Kenyan Constitution was recently amended to guarantee equality between the sexes (1997), in reality discrimination against women persists in both the private and public spheres. Attempts to draft legislation ensuring equality for women have been thwarted, leaving women in Kenya with few laws specifically protecting their rights. Furthermore, even where women do have de jure protection, customary practices often conflict with these laws, making it difficult for women to realize these protections.

COVAW is a non-profit making national women human rights organization registered in Kenya under the NGO Coordination Act. COVAW was established in 1995 as a result of a workshop organized by WILDAF (Women in Law and development in Africa) that sought to strengthen the networking capacities of women organizations in Kenya. At this workshop, violence against women was identified as a serious women rights violation that needed concerted efforts to address.

This saw the birth of COVAW. Since inception, COVAW has continued to be instrumental in placing violence against women as a crime and a human rights violation and has spearheaded the campaign towards women having the right to be free from violence, the right to self defence and the right to state protection. COVAW believes that people have the capacity to learn and change their attitudes towards women. COVAW beneficiaries are therefore women and girls.


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