Managing Time (Kenya)

Building the capacity of rape survivors to research sexual violence in Kenya


The project seeks to prevent sexual violence by changing the way we gather and use evidence to remember but not repeat violence. In Kenya, an estimated 11 million women have sustained sexual and gender-based violence, and yet, few cases are prosecuted. The Survivors of Sexual Violence in Kenya Network, founded by the Wangu Kanja Foundation (WKF), has developed MobApp, and app they are using to interview survivors in all Kenya’s 47 counties. The project is predicated on the experience of the WKF and their 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, through building empathy and rapport based on shared experience.

This case study project investigates the effectiveness of a training programme designed to enable survivor-interviewers to use scientifically-based interviewing approaches when documenting cases using MobApp. The programme incorporates creating art to improve mental, physical, and emotional wellness of survivor-interviewers. Existing protocols for documenting cases are resource intensive. They promote techniques that require extensive training and ongoing mentorship and feedback. Thus, most NGOs worldwide do not have the capacity to utilise existing protocols. 

Research Questions

1) How can existing international protocols for collecting and preserving memory evidence be adapted for use in low resource environments where capacity for ongoing training is limited?

2) What is the role of using the creation of art to improve mental, physical, and emotional wellness in fostering survivor-led research and advocacy? 

3) What are the essential skills required for survivors to collect and use memory evidence to advocate for changes in protection policy?


A mixed methods approach is being used to pilot test a training protocol and skills assessment tool with gender defenders from the Survivors Network in 11 counties in Kenya. The training has been developed to enable the participants to collect memory evidence using MobApp. MobApp data will enable the survivors to study patterns of offending, identify crime hotspots, and alert officials about service gaps in post rape care services. The results of the training evaluation will be used to inform future trainings and fed back to the international community, particularly survivors networks around the world. 

The Team

Wangu Kanja Foundation is a non-governmental, non-political and not for profit making organization whose vision is a society free of sexual violence. The foundation is a registered Trustee under the Perpetual Succession Act Chapter 164 of the Laws of Kenya. The Foundation was born from challenges that the founder Wangu Kanja went through after she was raped in a carjacking incidence in 2002. Her traumatic experience in the hands of the rapist, family, friends and the public led to her realization that she needed to take action to address sexual violence by creating awareness and prevention.

Heather Flowe, PhD is a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the University of Birmingham.  centered on understanding episodic memory, particularly memory for criminal events, using both experimental and applied approaches. She has world-leading expertise in memory and sexual violence. She develops new methods for increasing memory retrieval accuracy in legal settings. 


Rockowitz, S., Stevens, L. M., Rockey, J. C., Smith, L. L., Ritchie, J., Colloff, M. F., Kanja, W., Cotton, Njoroge, D., Kamau, C., and Flowe, H. D. (In press). Patterns of Sexual Violence Against Adults and Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Kenya: A prospective cross-sectional study. BMJ-Open.

Kanja, W., Flowe, H. D., & Cheeseman, N. (2021). Cuts to UK research funding threaten critical human rights projects across the worldThe Conversation. 

Rockowitz, S., Bradbury-Jones, C., Kanja, W., & Flowe, H. D. (In press). Post-rape medicolegal service provision and policy in East Africa: A scoping review protocol. BMC Syst Rev 10, 63 (2021).

Stevens, L. M., Rockey, J. C., *Rockowitz, S., Kanja, W., Colloff, M., & Flowe, H. D. (In press). Protecting Children from Sexual Violence during COVID-19. Frontiers in Global Women’s Health.

Rockowitz, S., Kanja, W., & Flowe, H. (2020). Challenging social norms and legal responses to rape and sexual violence: Insights from a practice-research partnership in Kenya. In Understanding Gender Based Violence: A Comprehensive Textbook for Nurses, Social Workers and Allied Health Professionals Springer Nature.

Flowe, Heather, Rockowitz, S., Rockey, J., Kanja, W., Kamau, C., Colloff, M., Kauldhar, J., Woodhams, J., & Davies, Kari. (2020, July 28). Sexual and other forms of violence during the Covid-19 pandemic emergency in Kenya: Patterns of violence and impacts on women and girls. Zenododoi: 10.5281/zenodo.3964124

Flowe, Heather, Rockowitz, S., Rockey, J., Kanja, W., Kamau, C., Colloff, M., Kauldhar, J., Woodhams, J., & Davies, Kari. (2020, July 28). Policy Brief: Patterns of violence and its impact on women and girls amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic in Kenya. Zenodo

UKRI (2020). Innovating pathways for safe and sustainable urban futures. Invited speaker. H. Flowe. World Urban Forum, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Flowe, H. D. (2020). Patterns of sexual violence during Covid-19 in Kenya. (2020). Invited talk, Institute for Global Innovation. Living with the Pandemic.

Stevens L. M. (2021). Investigative Interview Training in Kenya during COVID-19. Invited talk, Online Global Challenges Research Webinar (Panellist).

Rockowitz, S. (2021). Zoom is my new best friend: conducting sensitive research during COVID-19. Online Global Challenges Research Webinar, University of Birmingham, UK. (Webinar Chair and Panellist).        
Rockowitz, S. (2021). Exploring post-rape medicolegal service provision in East Africa. Invited talk, Risk, Abuse, and Violence seminar, School of Nursing, University of Birmingham, UK.

Rockowitz, S. (2021). Patterns of sexual and other forms of violence during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. APA Conference (online).

Rockowitz, S. (2020). Prevalence of sexual and other forms of violence during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. Invited talk, Forensic Seminar Series, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK.