Prompting Social Justice through Research a Priority for PhD Law Graduate
Doing research for her PhD allowed Law academic Dr Ann Strode an opportunity to address the issues of women and child abuse, exploitation and other social ills.
Her thesis was titled: “Walking the Tightrope – Creating an Ethical-Legal Framework for Health Research with Children: Balancing Child Protection and Participation with the Facilitation of Appropriate Health Research”.
It was premised on an acceptance that children are at high risk of childhood diseases, and health research is required to develop evidence-based interventions which promote their health and well-being. It used the analogy of walking on a tightrope to describe the complexity of using the law to balance competing interests in regulating such research.
‘I would like to think that the thesis enhances our understanding of research ethics governance and its recommendations make a contribution to the development of a more balanced ethical-legal framework for research with children. I feel that it enhanced my writing skills as I had a lot of practice during the six years of working on the topic. It also sharpened my analytical skills. I think its value is that it gives you inner-confidence in a particular area as you have read, thought and written so much about a single topic,’ said Strode.
Strode is continuously using her legal talent to service the community by providing legal research expertise on health matters through strategic partnerships with the Department of Health and other health and human rights organisations.
Her ground-breaking research into the forced or coerced sterilisation of women living with HIV has empowered women to take a stand against the discriminatory practice. She was recently requested by the Social Development Portfolio Committee at the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature to run a workshop on children’s rights with a special focus on the sexual and reproductive rights of adolescents.
Strode also took the opportunity to explore the practical side of her research as a member of the Human Sciences Research Ethics Committee which gave her an opportunity to face critical issues relating to the regulation of health research with children on an on-going basis.
She is also a member of the executive of the HIV/AIDS Vaccines Ethics Group which is a research unit in the School of Applied Health Sciences whose research focus area is on the participation of adolescents in HIV prevention studies.
‘I was frequently consulted by the Committee which brought to my attention new complexities and nuances with the application of legal principles. This gave me an opportunity to collaborate on many papers in this field and ultimately much of this work formed the backbone of my thesis,’ she said.Thandiwe Jumo