Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Child Protection and Social Inequality: Understanding Child Prostitution in Malawi

Version 1 : Received: 16 July 2018 / Approved: 25 July 2018 / Online: 25 July 2018 (13:08:18 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Nkhoma, P.; Charnley, H. Child Protection and Social Inequality: Understanding Child Prostitution in Malawi. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 185. Nkhoma, P.; Charnley, H. Child Protection and Social Inequality: Understanding Child Prostitution in Malawi. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 185.

Journal reference: Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 185
DOI: 10.3390/socsci7100185

Abstract

This article draws on empirical research seeking to develop more nuanced understandings of child prostitution, previously theorised on the basis of children’s rights, feminist, and structure/agency debates, largely ignoring children’s own understandings of their involvement in prostitution. Conducted in Malawi, one of the economically poorest countries in the world, the study goes to the heart of questions of inequality and child protection. With careful attention to ethical considerations, a participatory approach was used to enable 19 girls and young women, whose involvement in prostitution began in childhood, to convey their own experiences and understandings of involvement. Data were collected using a range of methods, chosen by participants to match their abilities and interests. Data analysis and interpretation were aided by reference to the capability approach focussing on questions of human rights and social justice for women and girls. Generating rare insights into participants’ worlds, the research demonstrates how the persistence of deeply embedded cultural values in contexts of extreme poverty serves to sustain gender inequalities, constraining choices for girls and denying them opportunities to lead valued lives. The article ends by considering the theoretical and methodological implications of the study, policy and practice recommendations and opportunities for further research.

Subject Areas

child prostitution, global inequality, gender inequality, participatory research, capability approach.

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