Journal Article

Young Women, Local Authority Care and Selling Sex: Findings from Research

Maddy Coy

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 38, issue 7, pages 1408-1424
Published in print October 2008 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 2007 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Young Women, Local Authority Care and Selling Sex: Findings from Research

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Researchers, practitioners and policy makers have noted the disproportionate number of young women with backgrounds of local authority care who are involved in commercial sex. However, the lack of knowledge about why this occurs means that there is little evidence with which to develop interventions. This article describes research that explored young women’s routes into the sex industry from local authority care using a feminist participatory action approach. The women’s life-story narratives demonstrate that the psycho-social legacies of their care experiences—how they defined themselves and placed themselves in the world—were instrumental in their entry into selling sex. From these themes, a framework for understanding young women’s involvement in commercial sex is drawn that traces young women’s paths from living in/leaving care to selling sex. The article includes discussion of the implications for social work practice with vulnerable young women and recommendations for interventions.

Keywords: young women, commercial sex, local authority care, identity, body, stigma

Journal Article.  6695 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Work

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