Alienating Narratives - The professional Challenge of Preventing and Responding to Sexual Vulnerability Amongst Unaccompanied Refugee Minors in Sweden

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för etnologi

Abstract: This thesis explores the reception system for unaccompanied refugee minors (URMs) in Sweden, with a focus on preventive and responsive measures to sexual violence. The aim is to understand the professional challenges of actively working against sexual vulnerability and violence. Furthermore, it explores the interrelation between changes in laws and legislation and shifts in the public discourse, with the aim of understanding how they affect the reception system and professional practice. The qualitative material is gathered through interviews and focus groups with concerned professionals in the region of Skåne, Sweden. To contextualize the experience of the professionals a media content analysis is conducted, presented together with official reports and laws and legislation. Through concepts such as alienation and national identity the narratives in the media coverage is examined and it is argued that a shift in the public debate takes place in 2016, where a narrative of URMs as sexual perpetrators takes prominence. The shift correlates with a change in Sweden’s migration policy that aimed to control and decrease the number of refugees seeking asylum. Through notions about trust development, where consistency, persistence, and reliability are key factors, the interaction between service provider and client is analysed. The study shows that the risk zones for exposure the sexual violence are closely connected to the asylum process. However, so are the possibilities for professionals to actively work preventive and responsive. Trust development is proved to be essential, but trust is difficult for professionals to inspire in youths with an unsure legal status or those waiting for a decision.

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