RUGENE: Severer punishment for criminals who kill, brutalise women needed - Daily Nation

Severer punishment for criminals who kill, brutalise women needed

Wednesday September 12 2018

Sharon Otieno

Ms Sharon Otieno. She was abducted and murdered in Homa Bay. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By NJERI RUGENE
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I have been very angry and disturbed these past three weeks. Though the initial subject of my anger and frustration did not make the headlines, for days I looked for words to describe the horrid incident but could not get them.

All that kept ringing in my mind were the words of the late Anglican Archbishop Manasses Kuria after he lost his briefcase that had crucial documents and a Bible at a European airport. “This is a sinful world” was all the venerable cleric would say, disappointed that the thief could steal, of all things, his Bible!

About two-and-a-half weeks ago at a residential flat in Makutano, Meru Town, two successful young women were brutalised in the most horrendous manner, leaving one dead and the other seriously injured and deeply traumatised.

SLAUGHTERED

Laurine Kawira Njuki was literally slaughtered in the August 24 attack, only a month to her 24th birthday. Her friend, colleague and age-mate was left for dead and is nursing deep stab wounds all over the body.

Their experience, as narrated, may sound like fiction to those not privy to it.

Laurine, who worked with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in Meru County, and the assailant lived on the same floor of the four-storey flat.

Described by friends and family as hardworking, she lived alone and the brute with a wife and child. The neighbours would exchange pleasantries when they bumped into each other.

ARRIVED HOME EARLIER

Laurine, who was pursuing a master’s degree at a local university, was hosting her colleague, who had travelled from her Nairobi work station on official duty.

The bubbly young women were to go to the city together for the weekend. They decided to spend that Friday in the house to catch up.

According to reports, the visitor had arrived home earlier. Then the smiling neighbour came calling, asking after the host. But Laurine was not home yet, so he decided to sit and wait for her. Shortly afterwards, Laurine arrived and, after greetings and pleasantries, the man casually told her that he was there to take her car — which she had bought only a few months earlier — and money.

WIELDING A SWORD

Of course she initially laughed off the ‘request’. But, wielding a sword, he demanded the car keys, their ATM cards and PINs, including for M-Pesa. For hours, the man held the two women hostage and tortured them after tying them together with a rope and locking them up in a room.

When all appeared quiet, the women assumed they were safe. They untied themselves, albeit with difficulty, but they could not jump out, given the window grilles. They started screaming.

But he re-emerged, unlocked the door and proceeded to literally slaughter them, starting with the host. Her friend was stabbed several times as she fought him off and somehow fled to the kitchen, bleeding profusely. He followed her there, attacked her and left her for dead, then locked her up.

Neighbours had heard the commotion and called the police, who arrived after the killer had escaped and broke down the doors. The police have arrested the suspect of the murder and grievous assault, who is in their custody.

LAID TO REST

Laurine was laid to rest last week in Embu County.

But before I could digest that, the story of Sharon Otieno broke. The heavily pregnant 26-year-old university student was killed in the most brutal manner at the boundary of Migori and Homa Bay counties by some beastly men who had abducted her together with a nation journalist, who miraculously fled.

Post-mortem results show the killers raped and strangled her before fatally stabbing her and the unborn baby eight times.

But what goes on in the mind of a man brutalising and raping an already vulnerable, seven-month pregnant young woman he is about to kill?

And then there are those, especially on social media, who blame the victims by finding moral faults in their conduct. What savagery!

Like the women leaders who gathered at Sharon’s Homa Bay home on Sunday, it is time we took every available measure to bring the senseless killing of our women to an end.

BRUTAL MURDERS

As Kisumu Woman Representative Rosa Buyu said that day, the brutal murders of Sharon and Laurine must mark the end of such brutality against women.

The culprits in these two lethal attacks should face the severest punishment possible — even the death penalty.

If possible, the sentence should be executed in public to deter those with similar intent. There can be no justification for the status quo in how we take women’s lives in this country for granted even for one more day!

Ms Rugene is a consulting editor. [email protected] Twitter: @nrugene

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