Design: The study's design was a cluster-randomized, matched-pairs, parallel trial of a behavior-based sexual assault prevention intervention in the informal settlements.
Methods: The participants were primary school girls aged 10-16. Classroom-based interventions for girls and boys were delivered by instructors from the same settlements, at the same time, over six 2-h sessions. The girls' program had components of empowerment, gender relations, and self-defense. The boys' program promotes healthy gender norms. The control arm of the study received a health and hygiene curriculum. The primary outcome was the rate of sexual assault in the prior 12 months at the cluster level (school level). Secondary outcomes included the generalized self-efficacy scale, the distribution of number of times victims were sexually assaulted in the prior period, skills used, disclosure rates, and distribution of perpetrators. Difference-in-differences estimates are reported with bootstrapped confidence intervals.
Results: Fourteen schools with 3147 girls from the intervention group and 14 schools with 2539 girls from the control group were included in the analysis. We estimate a 3.7 % decrease, p = 0.03 and 95 % CI = (0.4, 8.0), in risk of sexual assault in the intervention group due to the intervention (initially 7.3 % at baseline). We estimate an increase in mean generalized self-efficacy score of 0.19 (baseline average 3.1, on a 1-4 scale), p = 0.0004 and 95 % CI = (0.08, 0.39).
Interpretation: This innovative intervention that combined parallel training for young adolescent girls and boys in school settings showed significant reduction in the rate of sexual assault among girls in this population.
Keywords: Adolescent; Gender-based violence; Prospective study; Randomized controlled trial; Rape/prevention and control; Rape/statistics and numerical data; School-based; Sub-Saharan Africa.