Widgets Magazine

Stanford researchers discuss study to break culture of sexual assault

Stanford researchers have found that trainings designed for young girls focusing on empowerment and for young boys focusing on gender norms have decreased sexual violence in Nairobi settlements.

(AMELIA LELAND/The Stanford Daily)

The Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research held its quarterly symposium on Thursday, focusing on these findings discovered through the work of Clea Sarnquist, senior research scholar and lecturer of infectious disease in pediatrics and Mike Baiocchi, assistant professor in the Stanford Prevention Research Center to prevent gender-based violence in the unplanned settlements of Nairobi.

The interdisciplinary team of Stanford researchers uses an empirical approach to develop effective intervention prevention strategies.

Featuring approximately 3,500 girls and 1,000 boys between the ages of 10 and 14, the current study is the largest of its kind ever. The girls’ program concentrates on empowerment, situational awareness, verbal skills and physical defense. The boys’ program emphasizes healthy gender norms, positive masculinity and bystander intervention.

The trainers for each program all come from the settlements themselves.

“This is a key piece of building intervention prevention,” said Sarnquist. “There is community buy-in and community input, which ensures that the program stays relevant.”

The trainers undergo a rigorous selection process, followed by nearly a year of preparation before they are able to teach classes independently in order to maintain the study’s quality and consistency.

As a result of this program in five settlements, rape incidence decreased from 7.3 percent to 3.6 percent. Baiocchi discussed indirect consequences, including a decrease in unplanned pregnancy and a decrease in sexually transmitted infections.

“[The study] is so cross-cutting and related to almost every bad outcome you can think of; however, it is also amenable to change,” Sarnquist said. “It really feels like we could make a difference across many aspects of somebody’s life.”

“Being able to really quantify the case for these programs to be adapted and spread is really important to me,” Baiocchi echoed.

The researchers responded to whether findings in Nairobi can be applicable to the culture of sexual assault on college campuses in the United States. They explained consistency in the basic theories of intervention prevention, including empowerment and physical defense across cultural boundaries. The difficulty comes with determining what works concretely on a local scale and how to deploy effective programs.

Contact Mini Ruda at mruda ‘at’ stanford.edu.

  • Joe Citizen

    These classes may cut rapes by 50% in Kenya, but in the US on college campuses, we already know the answer to cutting allegations of assault by 50% – women need to not drink excessively,, then get in a situation where they can be taken advantage of – the phrase “taken advantage of” goes back to the current student’s great grandmother’s time – THEY HAD SOLVED THIS GREAT MYSTERY OF HOW TO REDUCSE SEXUAL ASSAULT ON CAMPUS – HONOR YOUR GREAT GRANDMOTHERS AND FOLLOW THEIR ADVICE. DO NOT GET BLITZED DRUNK AROUND STRANGE MEN. YOU ARE WELCOME.

  • Joe Citizen

    Adding to my previous comment, in the Brock Turner case – Turner was drunk, his alleged victim was about 25% drunker – right, she had not had a great deal more than he had – if she had been half drunk, IMO she would not have had sex with Turner, or if she did, which I think if fairly likely, (the stuff she came up with in the Emily Doe statement is mostly BS) she might hot have passed out, and so there would have been no trouble over it.

    The other prominent Stanford case, Leah Francis, is really most ridiculous – she got into the guy’s bed, in his house, and took her clothes off, then claimed rape -absolutely an absurd case to become a cause on the Stanford campus – it looks much more like buyer’s remorse than an assault – BUT, even in that situation, it looks pretty likely she would not have consented to sex, and thereafter claimed rape, if she had been totally sober.

  • chamelean75

    No matter what a women does, it doesn’t make it okay to rape. Saying that women shouldn’t drink excessively cause they will be raped seems like you are you saying that it’s the “women’s fault that they got raped because they happened to drink a lot that night”.

  • Joe Citizen

    Your comment is so original, how did you manage to come up with such a fresh insight on this? You should make sure everyone on campus reads your comment so they will all know not to say the wrong thing about rape.
    But, rather than saying the wrong thing, my concern was in preventing rape, and as a practical matter, getting drunk around strange men, in a location where you can be taken away from the crowd – unless you have a very reliable bodyguard perhaps – is about the riskiest thing a woman can do, based on the stats I read, and personal experience – hearing stories, seeing that at most events with lots of drunk undergrads there were guys trying to swoop down, at least when I went to college, and I don’t see any reason to think there is a big change – and truthfully, many of the drunk women actually did want the guys to swoop, on some level.

  • someone

    All the liberal universities in US promote sex as part of their undergraduate experience. This is how it is accomplished:
    1. All the dorms and dorm floors are co-ed.
    2. Males and females share bathrooms and showers.
    3. RAs promote hook-ups in the dorms. They even have condom designing contests at the beginning of the school year (and sometime at the beginning of each quarter).
    4. RAs keep stacks of condoms outside their doors each week and tell the students that they want to see all of them used up by the end of the week.
    Sexual assaults in a university campus environment is always some sort of hook-up that’s gone wrong. Why do all these researches about breaking the culture of sexual assaults when you already know what triggers it?

  • chamelean75

    “many of the drunk women actually did want the guys to swoop, on some level”

    Seriously????? I don’t know when you last went to college but being FEMALE, I can tell you that getting drunk at a party doesn’t mean, “please, I want strange men to swoop in on me when I am not in my right mind”. Many people get drunk at parties, what you are implying is that, women should only get drunk in their homes or in places where they know absolutely everyone. That’s like saying that women shouldn’t go to parties since most campus parties are big groups of people where you don’t know everyone. Could not getting drunk lower your risk of rape? Yes because you’d be conscious enough to run away and scream. But that being said, you make it seem like it’s okay for guys to swoop in on women when they are drunk….. Please don’t do this.

  • Joe Citizen

    Don’t do what? Swoop in on drunk women or keep telling you the truth? The simple fact is, you get drunk, with no one nearby to protect you, and you are in danger of being assaulted. I would think this has been the same since shortly after alcohol was discovered.
    This simple truth will continue tp be true, I think, until there is kind of a complete police state of feminism – even after that probably, though it might become rare at that point.
    Now about some of the drunk women wanting to attract men for sex – there would always be at least a few drunk women at parties who made it clear that was what they were after – I don’t understand it, and it seems highly masochistic – many men would tell you that they wanted no strings attached, purely anonymous sex but did not feel comfortable admitting that to themselves, so they needed to get drunk as an excuse,. This seems plausible to me. Also, sometimes the girl had a bad breakup or was hurt – maybe she was amplifying her hurt, or, an alternate theory, maybe women, as biological creatures, on some level want very much to be pregnant and sometimes get in a state where they will do whatever it takes to get some sperm – especially after a breakup where their hoped for path to pregnancy seems thwarted. This last theory should be very seriously researched I think.

    I really don’t know what the drunk women’s motivations were, certainly not in most individual case, I am only reporting what I saw many, many times. Drunk women very eager for sex were never a rarity. If it’s different nowadays – at least different in regards to women getting blitzed drunk and making it plain they want sex with whoever offers – then I have to explain what I’ve seen in the past by that theory of non-acceptance of their desire for sex with a random man. I am sure plenty of women still go out and find a man during the course of breakups and other trauma – that is too basic I think to ever change.
    You asked me “Please don’t” do something, – either tell the truth or take advantage of anyone – I will ask you also Please Don’t.

    Please Don’t let the state take control of your mind. If you are a student, you are in an environment where people who want to control, not just your sex life, but your mind, are in power. Don’t let them do that. “Yes means Yes” is actually mind control – not every woman wants to pro-actively affirmatively consent – those drunk women at the big parties do not want to do that – at least, not in a sober state, but they also don’t have the choice of getting drunk and letting the man be the aggressor, because that is likewise forbidden.

    But those same people, who are working so hard to control your sex life, are not content with that – they want to also control all your attitudes, not just to what you do yourself, but to what all other women do – for example, when I said some women wanted to get drunk and have sex with whoever offered, you said they were not in their right minds – that kind of belief is just a bias on your point – what about the cases when they planned to get drunk, knowing full well the result, even stating that result beforehand? I’ve seen that many, many times – it’s clearly a part of human behavior and psychology – but you are not even allowed, under the rules of the “Yes means Yes” people, to believe that. And it appears they have been mostly successful in taking over your mind.

    I can’t see any dignity at all in asking any woman if she wants sex – it’s not natural to begin with, I’ve never done it with anyone I was not already involved with – and whenever any woman did it with me, it was obvious she felt awkward and vulnerable -and I felt bad for not taking the hint sooner, so she did not have to be embarrassed like that – but especially now, when, at the point when both people ought to be feeling there most free from other people, from society, from all the rules except those intrinsic to sex – to ask because the California State Legislature decided you must – it’s positively degrading.