Thesis advisor: Lisa Dodson / In the United States, the majority of youth who become victims of sex trafficking are U.S. citizens. Most "at-risk" are those involved in the foster care system, the sexually abused and/or those surviving without stable housing- otherwise known as the homeless. Through in depth interviews with homeless teenage mothers, this study analyzed the connection between housing vulnerability and sex trafficking. The major finding of this study suggests that young girls are pushed into homelessness and sexually exploitative situations when they experience a loss of familial support. Without familial support, young, homeless girls are forced into a patriarchal street economy that limits their options for economic opportunity: men sell drugs, women sell their body. Participants also discussed the perceived effectiveness of structural interventions, including welfare, housing shelters and educational programs. By exploring the intersection of homeless teenage mothers and domestic sex trafficking, this study adds to a stronger dialogue between the homeless and human trafficking fields. Additionally, this study brings attention to the fact that young, American girls are just as vulnerable to sex trafficking as the international victims highlighted in most of the popular media and literary scholarship. Lastly, several interventions are proposed for working at the intersection of homeless youth and sex trafficking. / Thesis (MA) — Boston College, 2011. / Submitted to: Boston College. Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. / Discipline: Sociology.
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