Working girls: a study of youthful involvement in Calgary street prostitution

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This exploratory study considers the phenomenon of youthful participation in prostitution in Calgary from a number of angles - all of which reiterate the pathology/rational choice dilemma that typically characterizes involvement in prostitution. Viewing juvenile prostitution as a form of pathology - the young person as a victim - or as rational choice - the young person as making a rational choice in light of the circumstances he or she faces - is explored through the use of various methods, designed to highlight both macro and micro perspectives. The history of prostitution law in Canada epitomizes the pathology/rational choice quandary. Never has prostitution itself been illegal, only activities associated with it. The involvement of juveniles in prostitution emphasizes this dilemma through the simultaneous application of both the Young Offenders Act and the Child Welfare Act - one stressing responsibility, the other protection. This duality is reflected to some degree in the sentencing patterns of youths compared with adults. Examination of extra-legal factors, however, emphasizes gender - although it is confounded with role, i.e. prostitute or customer - as a more important determinant than age of offender in sentencing outcome. Thirty-six male and female prostitutes were interviewed, including eleven juveniles. Interviews with these respondents comprised the micro-examination of prostitution. Their opinions were probed in order to get the 'street level' interpretation of their involvement in prostitution, and the motivations that keep these young people on the street. Finally, our focus broadens once again to a macro perspective. The phenomenon of juvenile prostitution is considered through a comparison of other criminal activity that young people are involved in; the economic situation of young people more generally; family structure; and education levels. It was determined that from a macro-perspective the phenomenon of juvenile prostitution as increasing or decreasing ultimately depends on one's perspective - absolute numbers of arrests indicate an increase in the phenomenon, whereas proportions of juveniles arrested indicate that juvenile prostitution is declining.
Bibliography: p. 169-177.
Gibbs Van Brunschot, E. E. (1991). Working girls: a study of youthful involvement in Calgary street prostitution (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/19642