Dr. Paula Tavrow, associate adjunct professor of community health sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and colleagues have been awarded an 18-month grant of $25,000 to measure and address sexual violence at a large public university in Kenya. The project is one of four from across Africa that is focused on campus-based violence prevention and that is being funded by the University of California Global Health Institute through its Women’s Health, Gender and Empowerment Center of Expertise.
Moi University in Kenya, which serves more than 40,000 students, currently lacks resources to support students who are victims of sexual assault, rape or other forms of gender-based violence. Dr. Tavrow and colleagues in Kenya will use the grant to implement a monitoring system to track prevalence of sexual assault and rape on campus, as well as to test the feasibility of creating low-cost prevention and victim support programs. Current students will be involved in almost every aspect of the project, from deciding which interventions to introduce to leading discussions and trainings of other students.
To obtain data on the prevalence of sexual violence, the study team will administer an online survey to sophomores that asks about their experiences with sexual violence and any resources or services they may have used. The researchers will work with the university’s Student Council to create an End Violence on Campus Club. Members of the Club will educate students about how intimate partner violence is defined, what constitutes consent and how bystanders can prevent assault from occurring. Faculty members from the psychology department will begin to offer counseling to students who have experienced sexual violence. In addition, the team will establish a helpline staffed by university nurses and the End Violence on Campus Club members will work to get the word out about it.
“Very few university campuses in low-income countries are monitoring the extent of sexual assault and implementing preventative measures. Our project, End Violence on Campus, is testing low-cost approaches that could be replicated on other campuses,” says Dr. Tavrow, who is also director of the Bixby Program in Population and Reproductive Health at the Fielding School.
Dr. Willice Abuya of Moi University will lead the study. Other collaborators include Mr. Albert Obbuyi and Ms. Hellen Owino of the Centre for the Study of Adolescence in Nairobi.
Learn more about the grant.