Managing Time

Managing Time


Building the capacity of rape survivors through innovative tools of documentation

The project seeks to improve sexual violence responses by changing the way we gather survivor testimony and use evidence to document cases. In Kenya, an estimated 11 million women have sustained sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), yet few cases are prosecuted (DHS, 2014).

Due to a culture of stigma and shame, fear of retribution and lack of adequate justice responses, many survivors do not report to the police. Police in Kenya are also under-trained and under-resourced, and there is an over-reliance upon DNA and forensic evidence in moving cases through the criminal justice system (Shako & Kalsi, 2019), when forensic evidence is often limited in cases of SGBV or not effective in proving issues of consent. Due to these issues, first responders to SGBV are often community actors, such as the ‘Survivors of Sexual Violence in Kenya Network’ (hereafter the Network). However, community members are not commonly trained to document cases of SGBV sensitively or in an evidence-based manner that would protect testimony from contamination.

Existing protocols for documenting cases of SGBV are resource intensive, require in-person training and ongoing mentorship and feedback. Thus, they cannot be comprehensively implemented in resource-constrained environments. In light of this, the Wangu Kanja Foundation (WKF) and researchers from the University of Birmingham have co-developed a trauma-informed interview training package that outlines best practice (e.g., UK Achieving Best Evidence Interview) for documenting cases of SGBV.

Alongside the interview training package, evidence-based documentation tools have been co-designed to document cases of SGBV utilising methods that can preserve memory details over time and protect them from contamination.

One such tool is the SV_Case Study mobile application (hereafter referred to as MobApp), that the WKF uses to document the experiences of survivors in Kenya’s 47 counties. MobApp elicits a free recall response from survivors of SGBV about the incident, followed by guided questions to obtain information about the location of the offence, time and date the offence took place and details pertaining to the perpetrator.

Preliminary work from our research team in Kenya has found that individuals who document their memory evidence using MobApp immediately after witnessing a mock-crime have increased recall accuracy in comparison to individuals who do not provide an immediate report (Stevens et al., 2022).

Therefore, there is preliminary research to support the use of MobApp as a memory documentation tool. Due to technological resource constraints within Kenya, our study uses a paper and pen version of MobApp (the standard intake form utilised by the WKF), as well as an enhanced version that employs behavioural crime linkage.

Crime Linkage

The case study considers behavioural crime linkage analysis to aid in the investigation and prosecution of SGBV cases. Behavioural crime linkage uses the unique and distinct behaviours of perpetrators to connect offences committed by serial offenders. By asking behaviourally informed questions within an interview information can be obtained that highlights where serial perpetrators may be at large. Multiple survivors accounts may be used to corroborate one another which may aid in the apprehension and prosecution of prolific offenders. Additionally, crime linkage information can identify geographic or temporal crime hotspots where security measures should be implemented to reduce offending opportunities and prevent future crimes (Chiu et al., 2021).

Project Gallery


The case study team has developed a behaviourally informed documentation tool alongside an interview training package to improve the amount of memory details obtained from survivors of SGBV, in particular, details that may be used for behavioural crime linkage.

The study answers the following 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) Can we improve the amount of memory details, in particular crime relevant details, elicited from a survivor of SGBV using scientifically rigorous documentation tools in comparison to current protocols on the ground?

We will conduct a randomised control trial (RCT) comparing the number of memory details documented from survivors of SGBV using the standard WKF intake form in comparison to a behaviourally informed documentation tool as collected by Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) on the ground in Kenya. Currently, we have collected baseline pre-RCT data using standard intake form to document cases of sexual violence within the Kenyan election year (2022) to ascertain the average number of memory details documented by HRDs prior to interview training and the implementation of the behaviourally informed tool.

Our documentation tools and interview training package have been co-developed with the WKF, the Network, and researchers and behavioural analysts in the UK to ensure we are asking informed crime linkage related questions that are context specific and survivor sensitive. All HRDs will receive the interview training prior to beginning data collection. The training package covers best-practice interview principles, memory theory, and guidance on trauma informed principles to discuss sexual violence. Following the interview training, 20 HRDs will receive a pack with documentation forms in a randomised order that they will use when documenting cases of sexual violence from adult survivors within the RCT. We will document 360 cases of sexual violence, with equal cases documented using the behaviourally informed tool and the standard intake form.

Following data collection, all documentation forms will be anonymised and coded for total number of memory details obtained, as well as crime linkage related details that could be used by a behavioural analyst to connect crimes to serial perpetrators.

Project Progress

  • Documentation tools and interview training programme have been co-devised.
  • HRD interview trainings have been scheduled.
  • Background contextual understanding of patterns of sexual violence in Kenya and case attrition have been completed.
  • Pilot testing of interview training package has been completed. Following interview training we see improvement in best practice interview skills such as rapport building and setting expectations via ground rules.
  • Pilot testing of behaviourally informed documentation tool have been completed. Participants who documented their memory details using a behaviourally informed interview immediately after witnessing a mock crime had increased memory accuracy following one week in comparison to participants who did not provide an initial interview.

The Team

Wangu Kanja Foundation is experience-informed and survivor led feminist non-profit national organisation founded in 2005. The organisation is domiciled in Narobi Kenya but has footprints in all 47 counties in Kenya. The organisation was founded by Ms. Wangu Kanja, an experienced Human Rights Champion, with 18 years’ experience in the field of gender and development.

The challenges she faced after a sexual violence ordeal and particularly in the quest for justice in Kenya, were instrumental in the establishment of WKF. The organisation focuses on addressing sexual violence with regards to prevention, protection and response. At the core of WKF’s work is addressing the needs of survivors of sexual violence in Kenya and beyond by engaging in holistic interventions with an aim of restoring their dignity and that of their families and friends.

WKF believes that by shifting social norms that propagate sexual violence, enhancing service delivery and ensuring accountability by all stakeholders can result in the prevention and response to sexual violence leading to dignified healing, recovery, and resilience amongst survivors. WKF identifies itself as a centre for excellence that catalyses action towards curbing sexual violence by applying myriad strategies including but not limited to community mobilisation, awareness, partnerships, research innovation, capacity strengthening, lobbying and policy advocacy, socio-economic empowerment and access to comprehensive care and support for survivors of sexual violence. WKF is the Convenor of the Survivors of Sexual Violence in Kenya (SSVKenya) Network which brings together a unified movement of survivors to amplify their voices to address all forms of sexual violence across the country.

Heather Flowe, PhD is a Professor in Forensic Psychology at the University of Birmingham. Her research is centred 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.

Anticipated Findings and Implications

  • Our project aims to empower the voices of survivor testimonial evidence by conducting behaviourally informed interviews.
  • Thus, survivors’ testimonial evidence can be used to highlight where serial perpetrators may be at large and aid investigations, prosecutions, and security measures at relatively low cost.
  • More memory details and behavioural information will be elicited using the behaviourally informed tool in comparison to the standard intake form.
  • There may be more details elicited using the standard intake form in comparison to baseline following receipt of the interview training package.
  • This has implications for the importance of asking behaviourally informed questions to gather details that can be used in behavioural crime linkage to identify serial perpetrators and identify geographic and temporal hotspots of crimes to implement prevention techniques.
  • Deliver co-produced, high quality advanced data collection and analysis systems that capture critical information about the nature of sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya and other LMICs
  • Engage and partner with sexual and gender-based violence organisations and establish a global network to share methods, findings, and insights for tackling sexual and gender-based violence to achieve SDG 5 (gender equality and the empowerment of women) and SDG 16 (peaceful societies and institutions)
  • Develop robust approaches for survivors’ organisations to document and analyse sexual and gender-based violations, and inform effective security, crime prevention, protection, and response strategies in LMICs
  • Raise the profile and enhance the capabilities of survivors’ networks worldwide to document crimes and use the evidence to advocate for effective law and policy, and ultimately, tackle social and economic inequality.


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 world. The 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. Zenodo. doi: 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.

What's On Social

Exciting to see @Stevens_Laura7 presentation at #EAPL2024! Great example of our innovative work on eliciting memory accounts in humanitarian and cross-cultural contexts . Students, interested in this field? Contact @hflowe about PhD and fellowship opportunities!

Congratulations @rights_4_time partner Lady Wangu Kanja on your honorary doctorate award from the @unibirmingham! @WanguKanjaF @hflowe @btcwarwick To learn more, visit

📢Rights for Time Network Summit
Register here for Day 4:


Follow Us