“IF WE HAVE THE SEX PURCHASE LAW, WE MUST BE PREPARED TO HELP” - How some of Sweden’s social services work with youths having sex for compensation
Abstract: This thesis aims to look into how some social workers in Sweden view their work with youths having sex for compensation with regards to the feminist ideas that the law on buying sex expresses. Swedish studies have shown that most of the youths having sex for compensation started when they were 13-14 years old. Previous literature and studies state that youths having sex for compensation often have been victims of abuse or have had other traumatic childhood experiences. In this thesis, it is explored how social work are affected by policies. The theories critical social work and feminist social work are used in the thesis’ discussion in order to see how social workers can work with youths having sex for compensation. There are different perspectives on sex for compensation in the feminist debate. The two main sides are liberal feminism and radical feminism. Liberal feminists believe that having sex for compensation should not be illegal but rather regulated and viewed as any other type of work where sex work is regulated with unions and labor rights to protect sex workers. Radical feminists mean that sex for compensation is a form of men’s violence against women which makes the women having sex for compensation oppressed victims. This thesis explores if the radical feminist ideology that Sweden’s sex purchase law is founded on can be recognized in the social work with youths having sex for compensation and if it is aligned with the main discourse. I have interviewed four social workers working with youths and made a discourse analysis of news articles about youths having sex for compensation. The interviews and news articles were found to mostly describe people having sex for compensation as victims, not always aware of the damage they cause to themselves. The explanations as to why the youths are having sex for compensation are however both in the interviews and news articles individual factors and not men’s oppression over women in society. The thesis’ conclusion is that the news articles and interviews show signs of radical feminism because they describe the youths having sex for compensation as victims who do not know what is best for them. However, the news articles and interviews do not present the cause of sex for compensation as a consequence of the patriarchal society but rather individual factors. I see an importance in protecting youths having sex for compensation since our society means that it is harmful for them. Discussions are needed to ensure that the youths having sex for compensation do not feel shame in the meeting with a social worker.
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