Narratives of child trafficking survivors in rehabilitation: conceptualisations of freedom for human rights education
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Children are being trafficked for sexual exploitation in virtually every country in the world (USDS, 2016:340). As yet, however, qualitative studies have not produced a clear conceptualisation of child trafficking for sexual exploitation, especially not ones that can be applied to the curriculum (Du Preez & Simmonds, 2013; Lumadi, 2012; Tyldum & Brunovskis, 2005). As Du Preez and Simmonds (2013:109) argue, qualitative engagement with this complex phenomenon is also necessary to reveal best practices of addressing child trafficking as a human rights violation by means of human rights education curriculum interventions. In South Africa, there is a dearth of research on child trafficking survivors in rehabilitation programmes. Hence, this study addresses the research question: "To what extent, if any, can the narratives of child trafficking survivors in rehabilitation shed light on the conceptualisation of freedom to contribute to human rights education?" Theoretical-philosophical and empirical exploration was used to respond to this question. Drawing on Ricoeur's (1966) philosophical conceptualisation of freedom, child trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is viewed as a human rights violation in liberal-capitalist societies. The empirical study was situated in critical theory. The research methodology used is life design narrative inquiry, the result of a synthesis between life design and narrative inquiry. The research environment, a safe house, was identified by means of purposive network sampling. Three trafficking survivors there were invited to participate in the research. Data were generated by means of semi-structured interviews, narrative interviews and from my researcher's journal. The data were analysed in two stages: exploration and Critical Discourse Analysis. First discourse practice was applied to the research environment. Next, the narratives of the participants were analysed using discourse as text, foregrounding the voices of the participants. The analysis of the narratives was interpreted through the lens of the theoretical-philosophical frameworks and discourse as social practice. This study provides a unique account of the experiences of an adult and two child trafficking survivors. These experiences are compared and contrasted with the existing theory, without losing sight of the essential difference between child trafficking and human trafficking. What is evident from the data is that relationships with the traffickers often make victims vulnerable and subjective participants in their exploitation. In such cases, it becomes much more difficult to determine whether a case of sexual exploitation should be classified as domestic abuse or as child or human trafficking. The analysis of freedom in the context of child trafficking provides an understanding of the role of two basic human rights in the narratives of the survivors; how they entered and escaped trafficking; and how they made decisions. It seems that the survivors in this study were stuck in the cycle of trafficking because they were unfree in their minds. The analysis of the narratives reveals that the redoubled right to dedicate one's life to pursuit of pleasure could trap victims in trafficking. It also reveals that pursuing this right could sustain the existence of trafficking in liberal-capitalist societies because of the strong demand from clients as a pull factor. The scholarly engagement with critical theory, human rights in liberal-capitalist societies, freedom and HRE curriculum contributes to an in-depth understanding of the freedom discourses in the narratives of trafficking survivors in rehabilitation through the scholarly engagement. The theoretical-philosophical engagement with the narratives of survivors in rehabilitation also contributes to a collective narrative of their experiences in a particular time, space and place. The discourses of freedom that emerged create possibilities of combating trafficking through the HRE curriculum. This study is the first to philosophically theorise the freedom discourses of child trafficking survivors from the perspective of the HRE curriculum. The thesis makes two contributions to methodology. Firstly, it provides empirical research on child trafficking survivors in rehabilitation. Secondly, it has created a new research methodology, life design narrative inquiry, which can be used to conduct research on vulnerable people. This thesis also contributes to an in-depth understanding of child trafficking from the perspective of human rights education in the South African context. The results of this study can be used as a departure point for curricula interventions by means of human rights education in South Africa. They also have wider application because child trafficking is a global phenomenon.
- Education