In the wake of upholding of death penalty for the 4 accused persons in the brutal Nirbhaya rape case, once again we are back to discussing rape and what can be done about it. Rich or poor, developed or underdeveloped, all countries around the world have had cases of sexual assaults against women. Rape cases have been on the rise and have stood at their pedestal in spite of many government programs, national debates, candle light marches etc. While we are busy accusing women for being raped and encouraging male dominance over women, Kenya is on the move to make itself a safe place for women. Kenya has come up with a progressive approach towards rape prevention and it is something we all need to read and learn from.
Kenya progresses with an enlightening approach
A state such as Kenya has witnessed many sexual assault cases, frequent rapes and harassment against the women. Men there never saw it as a crime and instead saw it as something that is bound to happen if a woman is walking around alone, in short clothes. Taking this as a serious threat, the group called No means No Worldwide decided to empower girls in Nairobi.
Schoolgirls were taught self-defense and were taught how to fight back in case they were on the verge of being assaulted or raped. In a world where so many people are shaming women and putting them at fault for being ripped off their dignity, this program started to empower them.
It’s not just women
The basic hurdle that remained in rape prevention was how we were ready to protect the girls by telling them to alter their behavior, but we were not ready to teach our boys that rape is wrong. We didn’t take enough efforts to teach them to respect girls regardless of what they wear or where they go. Seeing this as the root cause, No means No started ‘Your moment of truth’. In this case, this program talked to boys about how it is not OK to rape someone.
This education has done much good to not only the girls but the boys as well. Studies showed that post this program, rape cases by friends and boyfriends in schools that taught this program, decreased by 20%. It was such a huge success that boys became more aware of women’s rights. Studies showed that boys who underwent these classes were more likely to interfere if they saw a girl being assaulted or raped.
Early education is key to prevention of rapes
In a landmark decision, by 2017, every secondary student in Nairobi will undergo assault prevention training which includes both genders. The No means No program is aimed at helping children make choices. More importantly it is about helping boys make the choice of not raping anybody.
Kenya is one of those countries that has realized that for a brighter future, the present generation has to be educated rightly. It is not about telling girls how to behave but it is about teaching all children, regardless of gender, to stop assaults against women. By teaching them how to act in high-risk situations, they are helping the girls to be better prepared. But, by teaching the boys, they are reducing the opportunity for women to be in dangerous situations.
We all should learn from this move by Kenya. Change starts with baby steps. Today if a set of parents decide to adopt this idea, tomorrow it will become a group. Soon it will be a larger team. Step by step we can teach our children to respect every living being thus making the world a better place to live in.
Thank you Kenya, for this valuable lesson and congratulations on everything that you do for women empowerment.