The following qualitative study explored the perceptions of success of interventions for
young girls involved in commercial sexual exploitation. It stressed the importance of giving
young girls (and their advocates) a chance to express their opinions on intervention
strategies affecting them. The study further argued that their voices are crucial to feed into
an international discourse on intervention strategies that addresses international aspects
of the commercial sex trade. The research focused on three Commonwealth cities:
London (United Kingdom), Vancouver (Canada), and Sydney (Australia).
Sexual exploitation of children is a pervasive and complex phenomenon. We are now,
arguably, more familiar with the extent, process and effects of it. An increase in media
awareness and national and international legal frameworks has provided new
opportunities to examine the issue locally and globally. Nonetheless, little research has
examined the intervention strategies put in place to tackle commercial sexual exploitation
and fewer still have looked pan-nationally at the success of those interventions.
Primary data collection incorporated interviews and observation with young people and
social professionals, police, health workers, and researchers. This thesis also explored the
historical, geographic, and soclo-political context of youth prostitution through relevant
literature and secondary data and richly depicted youth prostitution and under-resourced
services struggling to provide multi-agency collaboration. All too often, overstretched staff
within serVicesl acked the resourcest o comprehendf ully or integratet he comple)(Ityo f
success or fluidity of macro global issues into their practice.
An emerging recommendation from this research was predicated on appreciating the
different layers, resulting conflicts and synergies of success of intervention (individual,
family/community, regional/national, international). Successful intervention depends on
how well success has been defined and agreed by stakeholders (for example young
people, practitioners, funders and managers) and an understanding of how those views
differ. Since young people involved in prostitution appeared to be becoming harder to
reach, the importance of their voice is increasingly paramount and may most effectively
and safely be represented by trusted advocates in the different (local and global) forums.
The results of this research help to build a case for multi-level dialogue and cross-national
collaboration, to address international problems complicating local practice, to better
define success, and to share good practice and effective interventions.
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