These consent classes have reduced rape by 51% in Nairobi
No Means No Worldwide have introduced a programme teaching girls self-defence and boys about positive masculinity – and it has significantly reduced rape statistics.

Have you ever considered what might happen if, instead of teaching boys toxic masculinity ("boys will be boys"), we taught them how to respect and stand up for women?

And instead of teaching our girls to dress a specific way and be cautious when they’re out alone, we taught them how and when to say “No!” and to defend themselves?

These basic concepts should be taught at a very young age. While we try our best to instil good values in our kids, if we don’t focus on teaching them about both mutual and self-respect when they are younger, it can become very difficult for them to do the right thing later in life.

No Means No Worldwide is a rape prevention organisation that has introduced consent classes in Kenya and Malawi. And the results show what a big difference teaching these concepts can make. Watch this video:

What happens when we teach mutual respect

In the video they explain that 1 in 4 girls in Nairobi, Kenya is raped every single year. This is largely due to the fact that, prior to the programme, many boys thought it justifiable to rape a girl if she was taken on an expensive date, if she was wearing a mini skirt or alone, out in public late at night.

Since the introduction of the programme, however, there has been a significant decrease in both rape and teen pregnancy.

No Means No Worldwide reports that there has been a 46% decrease in pregnancy-related school dropouts in the schools where the programme runs, and a 51% decrease in the incidence of rape among female participants, while 50% of girls reportedly stopped a rapist a year after training. There has also been a 73% success rate of boys who intervened to prevent an assault.

The organisation explains that in order to prevent rape and improve these statistics, they train instructors and place them in high-risk schools to teach students between the ages of 10 and 20. Through interactive verbal skills, role playing and physical training, both girls and boys are empowered and encouraged to create a culture of mutual respect. They believe this to be the key to ending the global rape epidemic.

Girls learn how to identify risk, say 'no' and talk their way out of trouble, and if that 'no' isn't respected, they also learn physical skills to back it up, states the organisation's website.

Boys learn to challenge rape myths, ask for consent, accept rejection and intervene if they anticipate or witness predatory behaviour. This is called positive masculinity.

How these classes will make a difference in SA

The South African Police Services reported that for 2016 and 2017, 49 660 sexual offences were reported.

These statistics include 6 271 sexual assaults, 2 073 attempted sexual offences, 1 488 contact sexual offences and a total of 39 828 rapes. Of course, they represent only those cases that are reported to the police and therefore do not include the countless sexual offences that women are too scared to report, perhaps because they’ve been brought up in a culture that perpetuates rape culture.

If we were to introduce these classes across schools and campuses in South Africa, we too can improve our rape statistics.

And although this might not be a ground-breaking or even new solution, helping our girls understand that they can defend themselves and say, “Don’t touch me!” while encouraging our boys to “do the right thing”, might be the very necessary intervention we need.

Do you think we should introduce these programmes at schools? How are you introducing your children to the idea of consent? Tell us by emailing and we may publish your comments.

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