New Glasgow woman presents thesis findings in India

Published on April 13, 2014
Mallory Guthro, right, and fellow Mount Saint Vincent University student Krystina Trites pose for a photo while in India for symposium in March. Guthro presented her honours thesis, which was focused on rape culture and cyberbullying, at the symposium. 

HALIFAX – Mallory Guthro is going places, India to be exact.

The New Glasgow-raised 22-year-old recently travelled to Trivandrum in the state of Kerala for the International Police Executive Symposium with fellow Mount Saint Vincent University student Krystina Trites to present their honours thesis.

“It was a little bit nerve-wracking. It wasn’t your typical conference. I’m used to presenting in front of a class of 30 people,” Guthro said. “I go over there and it’s professionals from all over the world. It was really nice. It was exciting.”

Guthro and Trites were there for more than a week in March, taking the chance to spend a few days travelling after the conference, giving Guthro a new appreciation for Indian culture.

She said the biggest thing she took away from it was the chance to present her work on an international stage.

“It would have had to have been the opportunity to present in front of scholars and practitioners from around the world, some that have been studying for upwards of 30 years. This isn't something many undergraduate students like myself get to experience. All in all, it was the trip of a lifetime that I won't ever forget.”

During the six-day symposium, they were presenting their findings from a questionnaire created with their supervisor, Dr. Stephen Perrott, and distributed among Halifax Regional Police officers.

Guthro’s questions focused on police attitudes towards rape culture, a term that links sexual violence and sexist attitudes towards women.

She created a scale where participants could rate how much they agree or disagree.

Guthro found that many of those who answered didn’t believe that we live in a rape culture, but did agree that there is a sexual assault problem.

“The main points to take away from the study are that although it might be expected for female police officers to agree with the assertion of a rape culture more than men, there was actually no significant difference between the two groups,” she said.

“Another interesting point found was that police officers having completed a post-secondary program were more likely to agree with the assertion of a rape culture than those who hadn't, which may lead one to question if rape culture may be simply a larger concept that is a result of being more politically aware of the real sexual assault problem.” 

She also asked officers to divvy up cyber-bullying responsibility between five agencies: the school system, government, police services, families and health care.

“A lot of research focuses on the parents, the school system, and the victim, but nobody has ever really asked the police how they feel about it. That’s why I found it interesting.”

One of the reasons she was drawn to this topic is due to the prevalence of children online.

The case of Rehtaeh Parsons also drew her to this field of research.

The 17-year-old from Cole Harbour attempted suicide and was later taken off life support after an alleged sexual assault and online attacks, shortly before a new provincial law was introduced, targeting cyber-bullying.

“One of the questions I thought of when I saw the results, where they disagree with the (term) rape culture, would that be indicative of further police training or is it really an accurate assessment of how they really feel and what is really going on in the world?” Guthro said.

Guthro has always been interested in the legal process and after graduating from North Nova Education Centre, she decided to pursue forensic psychology.

The presentation went well, Guthro said, and she hopes to continue investigating this area.

“It’s touchy for some people, but I think that’s why I like it because some people just wouldn’t want to go there.”

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda