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Empowerment program greatly decreases incidence of rape, Stanford/Packard-led study finds
Date:4/13/2014

hree-, six- and 10-month intervals; 428 in a comparison group received a 90-minute life-skills class that is the current national standard in Kenya. The empowerment training included lessons on self-efficacy, boundaries and personal awareness; assertive communication skills; de-escalation and negotiation; and a variety of physical skills for defending against and escaping from single or multiple attackers. Before and 10.5 months after the training began, both groups answered anonymous questionnaires about their recent experiences of rape and sexual harassment.

At the start of the study, nearly one in five girls from the intervention group reported that they had been forced to have sex in the prior year. By the end of the 10.5-month study, the rate had dropped by more than a third.

Among those who received training, 52.3 percent fended off rape in the subsequent 10.5 months. Of these girls, 45 percent used verbal skills alone, 30 percent started with verbal skills and added physical skills, and 25 percent used physical skills alone. In addition, 65 percent of the girls who received training defended themselves against sexual harassment, defined as "unwanted comments, whistles or gestures with a sexual intent" and/or "unwanted sexual touching." To stop harassment, 59 percent used verbal skills only, 26 percent used verbal and physical skills and 15 percent used physical skills alone.

Girls who received training were also much more likely to disclose an assault, thus providing a crucial window for access to services to treat sexually transmitted diseases, deal with pregnancies resulting from rape, and get help for other physical or psychological aftereffects.

Among the girls who only had life-skills classes, the proportion who became victims of rape and harassment remained the same, and they were no more likely to seek help after an attack.

"Clearly, girls should never be placed in these situations in the first place," said
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Contact: Erin Digitale
digitale@stanford.edu
650-724-9175
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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