STANFORD, Calif. A low-cost empowerment program for adolescent girls in Kenyan slums sharply curtails rape and sexual harassment of these girls, who live in an environment where women have low status and are frequently attacked, a large new study shows.
The findings, by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford and the nongovernmental organization Ujamaa-Africa/No Means No Worldwide, validated the program's effectiveness in combating an appallingly common hazard among girls living in the slums of Nairobi: rape. The researchers found that nearly 18 percent of participants had been raped in the year before their program began.
"This study in very poor neighborhoods in Africa demonstrated that there is a very high baseline rate of gender-based violence, but a simple intervention empowers girls to take responsibility for protecting themselves, and this leads to a major decrease in violence against those girls," said Yvonne Maldonado, MD, the senior author of the study, which will be published April 13 in Pediatrics. Maldonado is professor of pediatrics at Stanford and chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the children's hospital.
The intervention involves teaching girls verbal and physical techniques to prevent sexual harassment and assault. The study, which evaluated the effectiveness of these techniques for 1,978 adolescents living in Nairobi slums, confirms the success of a smaller pilot study of the same program that Stanford and No Means No Worldwide published last year.
In the new study, more than half of the girls in the intervention group used what they had learned in their training to fend off rape or stop sexual harassment, halting 817 assaults and 957 harassment situations in the 10.5-month study period. The rate of rape dropped from 17.9 per 100 person-years to 11.1 per 100 person-years in the girls who received training. (The rate was measured in
|Contact: Erin Digitale|
Stanford University Medical Center