An academic at the University of Bradford has been awarded funding to conduct a four-year study into child sex abuse.
Assistant Professor Dr Samina Karim has been awarded a prestigious UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowship to conduct the investigation into child sex abuse. The Fellowship supports the most talented people to become the next wave of world-class research and innovation leaders.
Dr Karim is a former social work practitioner turned academic, specialising in the field of child protection. A passionate advocate of children’s rights, she holds a PhD in Power and the Institutional Abuse of Children, as well as having experience in research to inform practice and policy relating to safeguarding vulnerable individuals.
Dr Karim will receive around £1m in funding and in-kind contributions to undertake innovative research on the abuse of children from Pakistani backgrounds, both within the UK and in Pakistan.
The project aims to support positive change nationally and internationally, as the research will yield knowledge on the cross-cutting issue of child sexual abuse in both countries in a novel way.
She says: “The eradication of child abuse is a global responsibility, and it is important to recognise the vulnerability of children, whatever the culture or context. The sexual abuse of children, therefore, is not limited to a particular place; so we need to think more broadly about how we understand and address these concerns.
“In the UK, we are now proactively responding to cases of current as well as historic child abuse, however those from migrant communities remain less likely to come forward. The reasons can be complex. Minority communities within any country, often face multiple layers of disadvantage, which makes it really challenging to address such sensitive issues.
“We do not want to marginalise communities, but it is important that we start to talk more openly about these issues and develop systems and policies that support the prevention and responses to child sexual abuse.
“Children are the future. In a healthy society, we want to offer them all the protection we can. Abuse at any stage of life is horrific but preventing children from enduring terrible things such as sexual abuse can potentially change their whole life trajectory. Prevention and early intervention are critical.”
the investment being made by the UKRI to fund the project, the research will also be supported by local institutional partners, Muslim Charity UK, Riphah Institute of Public Policy (Islamabad) and others.
Professor Peter Mitchell, head of the School of Social Sciences, said: “I am both proud and delighted that this grant has been awarded to Dr Karim. It is a credit to UKRI and the rigorous review process that they have identified the significance of the project, not just as an academic endeavour, but as a piece of work that can and will lead to beneficial changes in society.
“The project has a prominent international dimension, allowing an opportunity to conduct world-leading impactful research. The city of Bradford and the wider region of West Yorkshire is the right place to conduct the research given that it lends itself to an illuminating comparison with customs and child-rearing practices in South Asian communities.
“Dr Karim is the right person to lead the research with her multilingualism, her extensive network of contacts in the community, in the services and across disciplinary boundaries in academia.
“The University of Bradford’s School of Social Sciences is the ideal home for this project. Our mission is not only to educate students and to create knowledge but to work with the community to make society better than it is. The objectives of the UKRI Future Leader Fellowship align perfectly with this mission.
“Graduate students will work on the project or on related topics and will benefit from the new knowledge that the project generates. In turn, this work will directly benefit the community by conferring enlightenment. Indeed, by helping the community to understand issues around child-rearing, society will become safer, better adjusted, more functional and happier.”