An International Attempt to End a Rape Epidemic

Kenyan Parliament member Gideon Mwiti Irea is under investigation for beating and raping a woman that visited his private office earlier this week to discuss business. And Irea is not the only one. Several Kenyan Parliament members have recently come under investigation for rape and demonstrators are taking to the street, calling for an end to what they claim constitutes a nationwide rape culture.

In light of these accusations, the international sexual assault prevention organization, No Means No Worldwide, have hopes to bring an end to the rape epidemic by addressing the problem at its core: education.

In its early stages, No Means No Worldwide taught self-defense classes to Kenyan schoolgirls. But after students repeatedly told instructors that the biggest problem was not being unable to defend themselves against boys, but the boys themselves, a new initiative arose. With support from Kenyan social outreach organization Ujamaa Africa, Your Moment of Truth – a program intent to teach “boys…to do the right thing” – was launched.

“If they say the boys are actually the problem, we the boys can actually be part of the solution,” said Your Moment of Truth-instructor Collins Omondi, who has been teaching boys from the Nairobi slums to stand up against sexual violence.

And the program is showing significant results.

Reuters reports that researchers from Stanford University and University of Nairobi find the program to be “highly effective” and the number of rapes in schools that administer the program have decreased by at least 20 percent.

Reuters also reported that a group of schoolboys that underwent the program prevented a rape from happening nearby the Nairobi riverbank Tuesday. One schoolboy caught sight of a man trying to remove the nappy of a young girl he was dragging along the bank. Remembering what he had learned from his rape prevention classes, the boy alarmed others, confronted the man and eventually rescued the girl.

“It would have been fatal,” said Omondi. “If this man would have assaulted this kid, he would have thrown her inside the river.”

Your Moment of Truth, with funding from the British government, aims to have every secondary school child in Nairobi – approximately 130,000 students – undergo the six-week program by the end of 2017.

Originally from Sweden, Chris is a journalist with an extensive interest for African culture and the arts.