Victimhood and agency in the sex trade: Experiences and Perceptions of Teenage Girls in Rural West Java

Atsushi Sano

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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This thesis investigates the entry of teenage girls from rural West Java (Indonesia) into commercial sex work, with a focus on their experiences and perceptions of the forms of injustice they are exposed to. Research into the involvement of young women in sex work has been dominated by two opposing views. The ‘mainstream’ standpoint treats non-adults (below the age of eighteen) entering the sex trade as ‘passive victims’ who have little ability to either identify or effect solutions to vulnerable/undesirable circumstances. Studies of this type essentially present simplified portrayals of victimhood. The ‘minority’ standpoint questions the validity of this mainstream view and emphasises instead the individual’s capacity to exert willpower and react effectively in the face of adversities. This standpoint, or what can be called child-centred studies, treats children as ‘social agents’ in their own right, and describes the diverse and complex realities experienced by them. The thesis tries to show that the dichotomous ‘victimhood versus agency’ thinking implicit in most research does not fully capture the possibility of co-existing dimensions of vulnerability and autonomy in the lives of children exposed to the commercial sex trade.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • White, Ben, Supervisor
  • Truong, Co-supervisor
Award date21 Apr 2016
Print ISBNs9789064900594
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2016


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