Interactive, educational computer games to prevent gender-based violence

The Commonwealth and NONE-in-three partner to prevent gender-based violence (GBV) through research and educational interventions. The research addressed different aspects of gender-based violence in four study countries: India, Jamaica, Uganda and the United Kingdom.

Globally one in three women and girls will be subject to sexual or physical violence in their lifetime, whereas the covid-19 induced lockdown has given rise to domestic violence. Our joint aim is to make this None-in-three.

Youth-centred

The project adopts diverse approaches such as educational leadership, with country-based teams working with schools to engage young people in the research, as well as developing lesson plans for schools to accompany the games. A team of game developers, based in Huddersfield, is designing and producing an interactive, educational, culturally appropriate computer game for each study country.

The prosocial computer games for use as educational tools in schools and other settings, are informed by qualitative and quantitative research that have produced data through a psychosocial survey with approximately 30,000 young people (age 10-18), assessing their exposure to and attitudes towards violence. From late 2020, game effectiveness will also be evaluated through school-based clinical trials.

The games are expected to prevent gender-based violence by positively influencing the attitudes and behaviours of young people.

Key Findings

Some brief highlights of key findings of the qualitative research are included below.

Jamaica

In Jamaica, the focus is on the long-term impact of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). The research examined the long-term negative psychosocial impacts of CSA, and explored factors that prevent victims from coming forward to the authorities, as well as the long-term repercussions for those who do speak out.

It is estimated that 19.7% of women in Jamaica experience GBV in their lifetime. The research indicates a strong need for the relevant authorities to receive specialised training on supporting children who report CSA. There is a need for staff in both the medical and judicial systems to be better trained and equipped to respond to persons who have experienced CSA.

India

The research work in India explored the damaging impact of gender bias in Indian society. It highlighted the forms of violence that women, children and young people face in their homes and communities. One of the underlying causes of this violence is the prevalence of patriarchal traditions and beliefs, which remain unchallenged.

The research suggests that this violence can be reduced if young people are empowered to resist patriarchal practices. This is equally true for both men and women. The bystander attitude towards gender bias should be challenged.

It is estimated that 28.7% of women in India experience GBV in their lifetime.

Uganda

The team in Uganda has focused on the impact of child marriage. The research highlighted some common narrative themes, such as poverty, particularly in situations when girls drop out of school and fall victim to older men who initially provide necessities and luxuries that their families are unable to afford. Lack of knowledge about contraception and sexual health was also an issue. The long-term effects of child marriage identified include intergenerational poverty, illiteracy, family break down, poor child development, intimate partner violence (IPV) and HIV/AIDS.

About 49.9% of women in Uganda experience GBV in their lifetime.

The research in Uganda indicates that there is a strong need for government – through the district community department – to liaise with relevant civil society organisations (CSOs) to mobilise and engage communities in dialogues on the meaning of GBV.

UK

The team in the UK has explored Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in young people’s relationships as the central theme of their research. Findings show that those who witnessed abuse in their childhood are at an increased risk of victimization as adults. One in three of the women interviewed had suffered childhood neglect or abuse, or had witnessed domestic abuse. Similarly, one in three had endured more than one, if not multiple, abusive intimate relationships as adults.

About 29% of women in the UK experience GBV in their lifetime.

UK research suggests that domestic abuse must not be seen as a private matter. The daily trauma that victims are routinely subjected to is unacceptable, and must be acknowledged as a public issue for the whole of society, in order to alter interventions and bring about effective change.

Jesse

Ni3’s first pro-social video game, ‘Jesse’, was developed for young people in Barbados and Grenada.

The impacts of ‘Jesse’ are still resonating widely, with changes in attitudes toward gender-based violence and disruptions to cycles of violence having been evidenced as a result of the game’s implementation in schools and broader public engagement activity.

‘Jesse’ has gone on to be adopted recently by the Ministry of Education in a third country, St Lucia.

 Next steps

Watch this space for publication of the findings and policy recommendations from our qualitative research. The research findings will be integrated into the four prosocial games in development.

Find out more at www.noneinthree.org

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