The CARE Project: Building Sexual Violence Survivors’ Capacity to Evidence and Research (C)rimes and (A)dvocate for Effective (Re)sponses

The Research Challenge

Sexual violence is an enduring human rights violation, and its effects are major obstacles to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly SDG5, which concerns gender equality and the empowerment of women. Survivors struggle to access post rape care services and prosecutions are extremely rare, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The lack of data, and weak statistical and technical capacity, pose major obstacles to sustainable development in LMICs.

 

In the CARE project, we will analyse existing data (called secondary data analysis) to inform policy makers about barriers to service access and case attrition. The dataset provides urgently needed information about the experiences of adult and child survivors in Nairobi who attempted to access post rape care services from 2016 to present day. The results will enable rape survivors in Kenya to use the insights from the research to advocate for policy change while providing generalisable insights for other LMICs. Our vision is to show, via this project, how secondary data analysis can be creatively used to help Kenya and other countries address the global issue of sexual violence.

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Overall Aim 

To conduct a secondary data analysis on sexual violence cases in Kenya to deliver high-quality impactful research on the nature of sexual violence, post-rape care service gaps, and case attrition patterns, and to study sexual violence health and well-being impacts.

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Background Context for the Research 

Sexual violence impacts sustainable development. Survivors struggle to access post rape care services and prosecutions are extremely rare. The root of the problem is gender inequality. Kenya ranks 142 out of 189 countries on the Gender Inequality Index. 11 million women in Kenya have sustained sexual and/or physical violence during their lifetime. In Kenya, like other LMICs, victims face overly bureaucratic and poorly-resourced systems that are laced with corruption. Victims are fearful of reprisal by the perpetrators and discouraged by non-empathetic responses from law enforcement. Survivors also face stigma from their communities and families. Sexual violence negatively impacts health, the development of children, economic and social attainment, and in the absence of appropriate post rape case services, cycles of violence continue.


We are undertaking a secondary analysis of data held by the Wangu Kanja Foundation (WKF), a 15-year old registered non-profit NGO in Kenya that assists survivors in accessing post rape care services. The dataset provides systematic and high-quality information about victims’ experiences in accessing post rape care services (medical, legal, judicial) in Nairobi.


The WKF was founded in 2005 by Wangu Kanja, a rape survivor. It has a large and long-standing network that includes governmental and civil society organisations in Kenya, as well as international organisations. They have collected systematic data from rape survivors about their experiences in accessing post rape care services. The WKF also founded the Sexual Violence Survivors’ Network in Kenya (hereafter, the Survivors’ Network) in 2017. We are conducting a secondary analysis of their data to study service access and likely causes of case attrition in the legal system. Our vision is to show, via this project, how secondary data analysis can be creatively used to help Kenya and other countries address the global issue of sexual violence.

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MobApp - A Tool for Advocacy

We have assisted the WKF in their launch of MobApp, an innovative data collection system that documents sexual violence cases. The Survivors’ Network is using MobApp to interview survivors across all 47 counties in Kenya. MobApp collects information about the offense, perpetrator, victim and service access. MobApp further measures, via a series of questions, the impact of SGBV on the survivor’s health. MobApp development was funded by the UN Population Fund. Ultimately, we hope that MobApp becomes an official case tracking system used by the government in Kenya and in other LMICs that need case tracking systems. We held a MobApp validation workshop (led by the WKF and sponsored by the UoB Institute for Global Innovation) with government and non-government organisations in Kenya and internationally, and obtained their involvement. Our secondary data analysis project will build on these IAA partnerships and project outcomes.

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Research Project Summary

Research objectives:

1. Conduct secondary data analysis to deliver high-quality impactful data research on the nature of sexual violence, post rape care service gaps, and case attrition patterns;

2. Analyse MobApp pilot data to study sexual violence health and well-being impacts;

3. Establish an automated system to allow the WKF to update results as new data are collected;

4. Disseminate and discuss the findings with policy makers and other stakeholders;

5. Develop a capacity building research agenda that improves the ability of the Survivors’ Network to use MobApp to interview sexual violence survivors across Kenya;

6. Engage and partner with rape survivors’ networks in other LMICs to share results and demonstrate the value of secondary data analysis in delivering important insights.

 

Research Questions:

1. What offense, victim, perpetrator and evidentiary factors are associated with post rape care service access and case attrition from the legal system?

2. How is the well-being of survivors affected by sexual violence and what services are survivors accessing to address their needs?

3. How can rape survivors’ networks in other LMICs learn from and use the findings of the secondary data analysis to research sexual violence and advocate for change in their countries?

Research Ethos

This project is predicated on the experience of the in-country investigators and partners that vastly improved evidence, in terms of response rates and accuracy, can be obtained by survivor-interviewers, who are trusted by interviewees and their communities, who can build empathy and rapport based on their shared experience. Survivor-led social movements, such as the Survivors of Sexual Violence in Kenya Network (SSVK), founded by the Wangu Kanja Foundation (WKF, project partner), will depend on the evidence obtained to advocate for services for survivors. This will bring survivors to the table when policies to address sexual violence are evaluated and developed. Greater opportunities for policymakers and survivors to interact in person may also increase public support for survivors, and decrease the social stigma sexual violence survivors face. 

People

International Partner:

Wangu Kanja Foundation

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Heather Flowe, University of Birmingham, School of Psychology, Applied Memory Lab

Co-Investigators:

Dr. Melissa Colloff, University of Birmingham, School of Psychology, Applied Memory Lab

Dr. James Rockey, University of Leicester, School of Business

Dr. Dorothy Njoroge, United States International University-Africa, Department of Journalism & Corporate Communication

Doctoral Researchers:

Sarah Rockowitz, University of Birmingham, School of Psychology, Applied Memory Lab

Laura Stevens, University of Birmingham, School of Psychology, Applied Memory Lab

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