Jacqueline Saffy


The child as a victim of sexual abuse has recently received deliberated attention within the South African context. In the study undertaken, the immediate as well as long term effects of such abuse was investigated with the pertinent intent of identifying a link between child sexual abuse and the involvement in prostitution. Utilising a qualitative approach, 20 prostitutes were interviewed and their experiences and opinions with respect to the circumstances surrounding their childhood abuse as well as the effects thereof documented. With reasons such as fear of the perpetrator, feelings of helplessness and a fear of causing a break up of the family, disclosure of the abuse was not apparent in any of the respondents. Thus the extent of the effects of child sexual abuse could be described as being directly associated with, and causative of the individual’s later adaptation in life. Emotional effects, the most frequently reported effect of sexual abuse, physical injuries, which all respondents reported having experienced and social withdrawal on both micro and macro levels were evident. In the light of these far-reaching and detrimental effects associated with child sexual abuse, as related to the choice to become involved in prostitution, the need for South Africa to address this issue is highlighted

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