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PhD Studentship - Surviving Rape in Kenya: Building Psychological Resilience by Enabling Sexual Violence Survivors to Tell their Stories

University of Birmingham - School of Psychology

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Full payment of tuition fees at UK Research Councils UK/EU fee level (£4,320 in 2019/20), to be paid by the University
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 6th February 2019
Closes: 31st March 2019

This PhD project is one of 23 projects advertised as part of the Global Challenges Scholarship Scheme.

In developing countries such as Kenya, sexual violence (SV) is grossly underreported; thus, systematic knowledge about the circumstances in which SV occurs and its mental health and well-being impacts is lacking. In 2014, 14% of Kenyan women aged 15-49 disclosed on a national health survey that they sustained SV at least once in their lifetime; however, few adult survivors report the crime to the police. For instance, only 10% of 4,000 survivors recently treated at the Gender Violence Recovery Centre at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital pursued criminal charges; all reported cases had child victims. Further, rape prosecution is based exclusively on medico-legal evidence (i.e., findings from medical examination). Survivors are given little opportunity to ‘tell their stories’ (i.e., give their account of the rape) to health providers or the police (see Figure 1). To address this gap, this PhD project will: 1) assess the impacts of rape and giving testimony on survivor mental health and well-being; and 2) conduct a randomised controlled trial to test MobApp, a method for comprehensively gathering and documenting survivor testimony as legal evidence in comparison with current methods used in Kenya.

The PhD is part of a larger project focused on using evidence-based methods for collecting testimony. The testimony of survivors is crucial in establishing the legal elements that determine criminal charges (FCO, 2017). The survivors’ testimony of the crime and its psycho-social impacts can inform appropriate charges and demonstrate the severity of the crime, leading to an increase in prosecutions (Ajema et al., 2009). Our team, including the Wangu Kanja Foundation’s SV Survivors Network in Kenya (Network, hereafter) and the UN Population Fund, is developing a mobile phone app (MobApp) that the Network will use to collect SV case data from individual survivors in all 46 counties in Kenya. The data being collected include the psycho-social impacts of SV and the survivor’s account of the crime and perpetrator.

The PhD addresses the challenge of reducing gender inequality in the Global South through research that identifies the main political, medical, legal and economic challenges faced by women and girls. It connects directly with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empowerment for women and girls. Institutionally, it supports activities within the University’s Institute for Global Innovation (IGI) Gender Inequalities theme, particularly the Sexual Violence work stream.

A prospective PhD candidate should have:

  • A good knowledge of the eastern Africa (including Kenya),
  • Be able to develop a novel perspective on and an understanding of challenges to rape reporting and prosecution in the region
  • Applicants must meet the university’s academic PhD entry requirements in a relevant subject

Hold a Masters degree in an area relevant to the project. Applicants should also demonstrate research potential.

Funding:

Full payment of tuition fees at UK Research Councils UK/EU fee level (£4,320 in 2019/20), to be paid by the University;

An annual tax-free doctoral stipend at UK Research Councils UK/EU rates (£14,999 for 2019/20), to be paid in monthly instalments to the Global Challenges scholar by the University;

The tenure of the award can be for up to 3.5 years (42 months).

   
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