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American legal discourse on child trafficking: the re/production of inequalities and persistence of child criminalization

Javidan, Pantea (2017) American legal discourse on child trafficking: the re/production of inequalities and persistence of child criminalization. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.kx32enta13p4

Abstract

The criminalization of children commercially-sexually exploited through prostitution persists despite trafficking laws recognizing this as one of the worst forms of exploitation committed against the most vulnerable social group. This thesis examines the re/production of inequalities in American legal discourse on child trafficking, and why child criminalization persists in this context. Employing a child-centered framework built from multi-conscious feminism and the sociologies of law and childhood, it examines mechanisms of othering and criminalization in key legislative debates, statutes and cases of the United States generally as well as two states exemplifying the retributive and child-protective modes of handling child trafficking. It identifies three themes or issues often presented as binaries that structure child trafficking discourse—adult/child, victim/offender and consent/non-consent—and examines how these are deployed to penalize children in general, and minority and immigrant children in particular. First, processes of marginalization related to race, class, gender and immigration have been vital to the construction of childhood (as normative/deviant) in and through trafficking and prostitution laws, which are reproduced through different types of discourses in both states. Second, both retributive and child-protective modes of response preserve child criminalization by maintaining the tension between prostitution and trafficking, and the female culpability associated with prostitution, including through the denial of the victimization of “repeat offenders.” Finally, despite its prohibition, prostitution is conceptualized in contractual terms, which imputes consent to identities constructed through this discourse and renders commercial-sexual exploitation as merely or primarily involving acts of sale, purchase and consumption.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Pantea Javidan
Library of Congress subject classification: K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Ali, Suki
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3607

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