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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

“People don’t talk about it”: Child sexual abuse in ethnic minority communities

Methodology, ethics and limitations

We used focus groups to explore the research aims. We commissioned the Race Equality Foundation to assist with recruitment and to facilitate the focus groups. The Inquiry’s Research Ethics Committee approved the research in April 2019 and the project was subject to rigorous ethical scrutiny throughout.

We talked to 82 people in 11 focus groups which were carried out across six regions in England and Wales. There were seven participants on average in each group. Three groups were with victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and the remaining eight groups were with members of the public who had no known experiences of abuse, recruited through organisations that work with people from ethnic minority communities. As male voices tend to be underrepresented in research on child sexual abuse, we carried out a male-only focus group to ensure their inclusion.

The majority of participants were female (83 percent). The age of participants ranged from 19 to 74 years old. Nearly half of participants were from African, Caribbean or other black ethnic groups (49 percent), with a third from Asian ethnicities (33 percent). Ten percent of participants reported mixed ethnicity and seven percent reported ‘other’ ethnicity, with one percent unknown. Although the sample is diverse, there is a lack of male Asian voices in the cohort – in particular all the participants in Wales were female – and we were unable to engage with organisations that could ensure the safe participation of children in the research, so all participants were over 18 years old.

When discussing people’s ethnicity and communities we recognise that the categories used can be contentious and that not everyone will identify with them. Furthermore, ethnic minority communities are heterogeneous, and some perceptions and experiences of child sexual abuse vary greatly both between and within communities. While some of the themes discussed in the research were shared between several ethnic minority communities, these often manifested in different ways both between and within ethnic minority communities. Other themes are or could be equally applicable to all communities and ethnic groups, including white ethnic groups and it was not our intention, nor is it possible, to make comparisons between ethnic groups based on the research. The research findings instead aim to draw out how ethnicity, community and culture help shape people’s understandings and experiences of child sexual abuse, without framing people’s experiences solely in terms of these characteristics.

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