Founder of group for survivors of rape and gender based violence in talks with University of Leicester over research links

Posted by ap507 at Jul 14, 2017 09:56 AM |
Kenyan activist meets with researchers at the University of Leicester and practitioners at Leicester Rape Crisis

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 14 July 2017

Image of Dr Lisa Smith and team available here:

An activist who survived a harrowing rape and carjacking, and went on to establish a Foundation for victims of sexual and gender based violence, is in discussion with the University of Leicester over establishing a research partnership.

Ms. Wangu Kanja, a Kenyan woman who founded and is director of the Wangu Kanja Foundation ( is participating in workshops and conversations organised by Dr Lisa Smith from the University of Leicester Department of Criminology.

The aim is to strengthen collaborations in research relating to sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings and other low-resource environments. This is linked to the project Dr Smith leads with colleagues in the Department of Genetics developing forensic DNA recovery techniques for women in developing countries.

Wangu Kanja said: “Amplifying the voices of survivors requires ‘all hands on deck’ and so building a relationship with the University of Leicester is crucial for linking research with national priorities in Kenya.”

Wangu survived a harrowing rape and a carjacking incident in 2002 and has since dedicated her life to promoting prevention, protection and response in ending sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). Wangu Kanja Foundation (WKF) is a nonprofit organisation that provides survivors of SGBV with access to medical, psychological, psycho-social, and legal redress.

Dr Smith, who is Associate Professor in Criminology at Leicester, said: “I am delighted to welcome Wangu Kanja to the University of Leicester, and to explore opportunities to work together and co-design research projects which can have real impact for stakeholders, communities, and individuals in Kenya.

“Wangu and I first met at a University of Leicester workshop in Nairobi, and have been having discussions about how we can collaborate to help provide research support to the issue of sexual violence in Kenya.

“Wangu is also spearheading a National Survivors of Sexual Violence Movement, aiming to bring a unified approach to addressing sexual violence and amplify the voices of survivors in order for them to be able to access comprehensive care and support and hold stakeholders accountable at a county and national level.  During the visit to the University of Leicester we explored opportunities for partnership and co-developing strategies for working together on these initiatives."

During the visit, Wangu met with Leicester Rape Crisis (LRC), local organisations providing support for victims of sexual violence, and survivors who have recently received services from them. LRC have been providing free one-to-one counselling and practical support to women and girls who have experienced sexual abuse and/or rape, for over 30 years.

Dr Clare Gunby, Lecturer in Criminology and Board member at Leicester Rape Crisis added: “It is a fantastic opportunity to host Wangu at LRC and hear about the work her foundation does. It’s also a great opportunity for academics and practitioners to come together to talk about their shared objective of ending sexual violence.”


Notes to editors:

For more information, contact:

Dr Lisa Smith  Associate Professor in Criminology, Department of Criminology, University of Leicester


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