Ahead of Kenya elections, female politicians face abuse, attacks

Al Jazeera English reports: Dozens of female candidates have been physically assaulted while campaigning ahead of the August 9 elections in Kenya.

Njue, a Kenyan psychologist who wanted to stand for a county assembly seat, had just arrived to vote in her party primary when opponents attacked her, pulling her hair and tearing her blouse. She fled without casting her ballot and lost the race.

Njue is one of the dozens of female candidates who have been physically assaulted while campaigning for presidential, legislative and local elections on August 9, according to the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association.

Such violence deters all but the most determined women from contesting, said Mercy Mwangi, the association’s programme coordinator, adding that most cases go unreported.

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

She reported the attack to the police but said there had been no arrests. Police spokesman Bruno Isohi Shioso said Njau’s case remains open and active.

It is unclear who organises most attacks but candidates suspect their competitors.

None of the major political parties responded to requests for comment on the issue.

Violence against women is not confined to the political arena. Nearly half of women in Kenya experience gender-based violence, according to the Gender Violence Recovery Centre at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital.

Read more: https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2022/8/1/women-candidates-in-kenyan-elections-endure-abuse-and-attacks

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