MIAMI (TIP): A programme that teaches university-age women how to avoid rape has shown some success in reducing the numbers of women in Canada who are sexually assaulted, according to a study.
Previous research has suggested that as many as one in four young women are raped or are victims of attempted rape while attending college.
The findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine are based on a group of nearly 900 women at three Canadian universities.
The first-year students were randomly assigned to either look at brochures on avoiding campus rape or to complete the training course.
During four separate three-hour sessions, the women learn “information, skills and practices to assess risk from acquaintances, to overcome emotional barriers in acknowledging danger and to engage in effective verbal and physical self-defense,” the study said.
Instructors also helped students “explore their own sexual values, desires, boundaries and rights,” according to the study.
The programme, known as the Enhanced Assess Acknowledge Act Sexual Assault Resistance Program, has been in development for over a decade by Charlene Senn of the University of Windsor.
One year after completing the training, 23 women in the EAAA programme reported having been raped, compared to 42 in the group that browsed brochures on rape prevention.
Researchers found 46 per cent fewer rapes and 63 per cent fewer attempted rapes in the group that followed the training programme.
“We found that the one-year risk of completed rape was significantly lower for the women in the EAAA resistance group than in the control group,” said Senn.
“What this means in practical terms is that enrolling 22 women in the EAAA resistance programme would prevent one additional rape from occurring.”
The programme is the first developed in North America to show some success against preventing rape beyond a few months, said Senn.