The devastating consequences of rape--HIV, STDs and unwanted pregnancy--are preventable with inexpensive medications. Tracking these life-saving medications gives early, anonymous and geographic data about where mass sexual violence is occurring.
To prevent mass sexual violence and target life-saving prevention and treatment to victims it is imperative to know the location of the violence as soon as possible. The challenge is timely reporting by women in areas of the world where impunity, rather than justice, is the norm. Women who have suffered these atrocities cannot be expected to provide information that has little chance of providing them with any direct benefit and may in fact put them at risk. The medical standard of care for victims of rape is called a PEP kit (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) and includes medication to prevent HIV infection, STDs and unwanted pregnancy. This treatment must be taken within 72 hours of the rape. When women or their communities know that such a treatment exists, they seek it out to help themselves or victims they know. By knowing when and where PEP Kits are being used, you can get timely and anonymous information about outbreaks of sexual violence and take active steps to stop its spread.
Our model improves on current efforts to stop gender-based violence by using PEP kits as a surrogate for the presence of violence in a region, replacing complete reliance on voluntary reporting by women. In areas where sexual violence is carried out as a weapon of war, voluntary reporting alone is tardy and underestimates the true incidence of rape. PEP kits help the individual victim directly when taken within 72 hours of the rape.
Using the distribution of PEP kits to shine a light on areas with outbreaks of sexual violence serves a dual purpose; it provides care for the individual victim to prevent the most serious medical complications of rape while providing real-time information that can be used to prevent such violence from continuing.
We are already implementing this idea, but on a small scale. With the help from the OpenIDEO community, we have been developing an action item list for what it would take to scale this project:
1. Partner with the large groups distributing PEP kits and form a consortium to standardize practice.
2. Analyze existing data on PEP kit usage across the North and South Kivu provinces to develop initial stock needs
3. Create a data team and formalize Standard Operating Procedures
4. Seek technical partners and explore solutions for phone networks, including interactive voice response
5. Work collaboratively with local community groups to develop solutions aimed at increasing the percentage of victims accessing PEP kits
6. Work with mass media, including radio, to develop messages to inform the public about PEP.
Check out a presentation of our idea