Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

“Underage sexworkers” do not exist.

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This morning, I awoke to the above being retweeted into my twitter feed.

The euphemism used for children who are abused and raped in the making of pornography is "youthful sex worker". Women and children who are trafficked are referred to as "migrant sex workers" and now children who sexually exploited and raped in prostitution are called "underage sex workers".  These euphemisms seek to erase what is actually happening: the sexual exploitation of children. No child can consent to be prostituted or trafficked.

Using these terms erases the perpetrator and makes the child complicit in their own abuse. This is the very essence of victim blaming. Children are sexually exploited and trafficked for a number of reasons and we need to acknowledge the context within which this exploitation and trafficking occurs. Frequently, children who end up sexually exploited are victims of family members directly selling their bodies or have run away to escape sexual abuse within the home. There is the exploitation of girls within gang culture. All of these forms of exploitation are due to patriarchy and the construction of women and children as a sex class.

We absolutely cannot use language like "underage sex worker" when discussing child sexual exploitation. It puts further children at risk of exploitation and blames the children who are currently being exploited for their abuse. We need an analysis of child sexual exploitation which puts the perpetrator at the centre of responsibility and puts the needs of the children first. We need to ensure that the most marginalised of victims have access to appropriate services and that their needs will not be erased or ignored within the system. The system needs to be flexible and responsive to the needs of the victims. Support for children will not be appropriate if we use language which ignores the roles of the perpetrator.

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2 thoughts on ““Underage sexworkers” do not exist.

  • Hecuba says:

    It is overwhelmingly female children who are the ones being targetted by mens’ pimp industry because the innumerable male buyers want younger and younger females they can rape and subject to male sexual violence.

    Certainly some boys are targeted but it is overwhelmingly female children. However sex of the victims must be kept hidden just as sex of the male perpetrators must never be publicly stated. This serves to maintain the fiction that boy children and girl children in equal numbers are being targeted by male pimps and male buyers.

    There are no ‘underage sex workers’ but there are innumerable female children including teen girls under the age of 16 being sexually preyed on by male pimps who then sell them to other men.

    The recent Rochdale and Oxford cases demonstrate that adult men are systematically sexually preying on teen and pre-teen girls not pre-teen and teenage boys.

  • 141622 says:

    What the hell? Undreage sex workers sure exist, my best friend used to be one (aged 15 – 19) and it was absolutely her free decision. She was working on her own. She didn’t have to, she had a supporting parent and all, she just chose to make some extra money and not give a fuck about society’s prejudice. I’m not saying that this is the majority of sex workers, I’m sorry for those who are truly abused, but the voluntary SW’s experience should not be denied either!