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Self-defense training for Kenyan girls reduces rape, Stanford/Packard study finds
Date:6/12/2013

STANFORD, Calif. Rape is shockingly common in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, where as many as one in four adolescent girls are raped each year. But a short self-defense course can dramatically reduce the girls' vulnerability to sexual assault, according to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and an organization called No Means No Worldwide.

"Self-defense training taught these young girls to stand up and say 'no' with confidence, and empowered them to escalate their own defense to a higher level, if necessary," said Neville Golden, MD, senior author of the new study, which is now available online on the Journal of Adolescent Health website. "To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that a self-empowerment/self-defense course can reduce the incidence of rape in adolescent girls," added Golden, who is a professor of pediatrics at Stanford and the division chief of adolescent medicine at Packard Children's.

The study looked at 402 girls who participated in a self-defense program developed by a Kenya-based nongovernmental organization, No Means No Worldwide, that taught them verbal and physical self-defense techniques, and gave them information about how to get help if they were assaulted. Conducted in high schools, the program was designed to combat a culture in which discussing sexual assault is taboo.

In the 10 months after receiving self-defense training, more than half of these girls reported using what they had learned to fend off would-be attackers. The proportion of them who were raped fell from 24.6 percent in the year before training to 9.2 percent in the 10-month period after.

"There is a strict code of silence among rape victims in Kenya, especially with the stigma of HIV and AIDS," said Jake Sinclair, MD, the lead author of the new study and a pediatrician at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, Calif. "Typically, no one is go
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Contact: Erin Digitale
digitale@stanford.edu
650-724-9175
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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