Researchers and students from the University of Michigan recently introduced a new sexual assault prevention program at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana.
The program was adapted from Relationship Remix, the sexual violence prevention program delivered to incoming freshman at the University of Michigan. The effort tailored the program to address the rape myths and other specific issues facing students at the African university. For example, while alcohol is a huge factor in campus sexual misconduct in the United States, it is not as prevalent an issue in Ghana. Additionally, the U.S. version focuses on assaults by peers, where as the Ghana version focuses on assaults by people in power, such as professors or graduate instructors.
Researchers from the University of Michigan sent six students from the university’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and Sexperteam to Ghana to train 10 University of Cape Coast students on the new program. The students led sessions on the background of sexual violence, sexual health, recognizing biases, self-care, facilitation skills, and answering difficult questions.
In the near future, University of Michigan researchers plan to formally evaluate the success of the program among the Cape Coast students who participated and whether incidents of sexual violence have decreased on their campus. The preliminary results are positive and many of the students who have gone through the program have stated that they are rethinking aspects of gender relations.
“We are beginning to see initial changes in rape myth acceptance. In Ghana, there are some pretty severe gender equality issues and large endorsement of rape myths,” said Michelle Munro-Kramer, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Michigan and one of the project’s principal investigators. “Even during the program we could see students starting to think about things and challenge each other and ask questions, even if they didn’t wholeheartedly change their attitudes. This is a good sign.”