Why Sibilo residents are conducting roadside burials

-Pall-bearers lowering the casket bearing the remains of the slain NAC priest Kimende Mutungi. Photo by Musembi Nzengu
-Pall-bearers lowering the casket bearing the remains of the slain NAC priest Kimende Mutungi. Photo by Musembi Nzengu

Poor roads forced residents of a village in Baringo North subcounty to bury a slain couple by the roadside.

Laban Kamuren hacked to death his wife Judith Chesang on October 1, before angry members of public descended on him and lynched him three days later.

The bodies of the two were transported from Baringo County Referral Hospital mortuary, about 100km away, where they were preserved.

"Due to poor roads, it was difficult transporting the bodies home, so we decided to bury them here beside the roadside, near Biretwonin trading centre," Judith's father Mengich Chesang said.

He said the entire place is hilly and rocky, while their home is located up the midlands of Tugen hills, without access roads.

Elder Joseph Cheptoo said that was not the first case.

"It has become routine for us here to use improvised manual labour to carry bodies or coffins by the shoulders through the impassable roads to reach their destinations," he said.

He blamed the county government for failing to improve infrastructure.

"We feel we are not in Kenya because our lives have not changed since the country attained Independence in 1963,” Cheptoo said.

Present were fellow elders Silas Konga, Joseph Kemei, Chesang Chelanga, Mark Chesang and Reuben Chesang.

They said it is close to 30 years now since they last spotted a bulldozer passing around to work on the dilapidated roads.

Apart from roads, they also decried the poor communication network, which has made it impossible to report emergencies, resulting in numerous deaths caused by curable illnesses, snakebites and bandit attacks.

RISING GENDER VIOLENCE

Transport woes aside, Judith's murder was the latest in a series of gender-based violence rocking the nation.

An average of 137 women across the world are killed by a partner or family member every day, according to new data released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

They say it makes "the home the most likely place for a woman to be killed".

Last week, BBC reported that more than half of the 87,000 women killed in 2017 were reported as dying at the hands of those closest to them.

Of that figure, approximately 30,000 were killed by an intimate partner and another 20,000 by a relative.

BBC said 100 women wanted to find out more about the women behind the numbers. They spent October monitoring reports of gender-related killings of women on the first day of that month.

The World Health Organisation states that one in three women around the world experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner.

This makes it the most widespread, but among the least reported human rights abuses. It is prevalent during times of peace and stability, but risks escalate when a crisis strikes.

While data is scarce, studies indicate that gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies is likely to be devastatingly common.

Furthermore, the data collected by UNODC highlights that "men are around four times more likely than women to lose their lives as a result of intentional homicide".

The UN indicates that men accounted for eight out of 10 homicide victims worldwide.

However, the same report suggests that more than eight out of 10 victims of homicides committed by intimate partners are female.

"Intimate partner violence continues to take a disproportionately heavy toll on women," the report states.

The UN statistics summarise the findings for 2017 based on homicide statistics provided by government sources. The figures for "gender-related killings of women and girls", or "femicide", are collated using the criteria of intimate partner/family-related homicide.

Report says Africa was where women ran the greatest risk of being killed by their intimate partner or family member, the UN report says. It occurred at a rate of 3.1 deaths per 100,000 people.

The UNODC report suggests women who kill intimate partners have often experienced "extended periods of suffering physical violence".