Passaris Responds After She Faced Hostility During Anti-Femicide March

Calls for Urgent Action against Rising Cases

Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris found herself at the center of a storm during an anti-femicide protest in Nairobi on Saturday, January 27, 2024. The event, organized by civil society and human rights activists, aimed to raise awareness about the alarming increase in femicide cases across Kenya.

Passaris, who was part of the organizing team, faced a hostile crowd that accused her of remaining silent on the issue. The incident has sparked a debate on the role of political leaders in addressing gender-based violence.

Passaris responded to the criticism, attributing the booing incident to political motives and a desire to settle scores.

In a statement, she said, “I was booed because I was the available punching bag to let out frustrations and to settle political scores. Not because ‘you did little too late.’ I have been on a planning wall with CSOs for the Femicide March from inception.”

Despite the hostility, Passaris emphasized that she and her team completed the march and stood up to be counted. She called for unity in addressing the complex issue of femicide, stating,

“Now back to work knowing we are ALL part of the solution and the problem.”

The crowd’s displeasure stemmed from a perception that Passaris had not acted promptly or effectively in addressing the escalating femicide cases. A social media user expressed this sentiment, prompting Passaris to address concerns about her commitment to the cause.

Passaris, however, pointed out that she had been actively involved in planning the anti-femicide march with civil society organizations (CSOs) from the beginning. She highlighted the participation of the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) and her entire team, affirming their commitment to tackling the issue.

Esther Passaris (third left) during the Anti-Femicide March

During her speech at the protest, Passaris urged President William Ruto to voice his support in the fight against femicide. She stressed the need for the government to assure affected families that it is actively working on their behalf. The incident at the protest, where Passaris faced heckling and chants of ‘go back home’ and ‘where were you,’ reflects the frustration and anger of a community grappling with the tragic murders of young women.

The recent cases of Starlet Wahu and Rita Waeni, whose lives were brutally cut short, served as a catalyst for the public outcry against femicide. Passaris, undeterred by the hostility, stayed on and participated in the march alongside women leaders and human rights activists. She expressed gratitude to the police for swiftly arresting suspects in recent femicide cases and called for expedited judicial processes to ensure perpetrators are held accountable.

In the aftermath of the protest, Passaris reflected on the broader societal issues contributing to gender-based violence. She acknowledged that addressing the root causes of violence requires collective efforts beyond the role of a woman representative alone. Passaris called for increased funding and training for the police to effectively combat gender-based violence.

The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) had earlier appealed to President Ruto to declare femicide and gender-based violence a national disaster. The association also urged the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Inspector General of Police to expedite investigations into ongoing femicide cases.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga also weighed in on the issue, describing the surge in femicide cases as a national emergency. He emphasized the need to prevent such tragic incidents from becoming the new norm and urged concerted efforts from all sectors of society.

As the nation grapples with the devastating impact of femicide, the incident involving Esther Passaris highlights the challenges faced by political leaders in addressing complex societal issues. The call for urgent action, increased awareness, and systemic changes to combat gender-based violence remains at the forefront of public discourse.


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