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Contesting the Dominant Discourse of Child Sexual Abuse: Sexual Subjects, Agency, and Ethics

Abstract

Responding to previous scholars’ call to explore the complexities of child sexual abuse (CSA), this article presents narratives of CSA and scrutinizes a binary construction underpinning this discourse of CSA, namely, the positioning of children as powerless and adults as powerful. The narratives belong to three Indonesian young people who have had sexual interactions with adults when they were children. The findings demonstrate how this binary positioning has been both drawn upon and resisted in the ways participants understand their sexual experiences. This article contributes to the existing literature by providing analyses of some vignettes of everyday experiences of how children might be constituted as sexual subjects, including their capability to exercise agency, perform resistance, and negotiate ethics. The implications of the findings are discussed in relation to how the recognition of children as sexual subjects and their sexual agency might be beneficial for parents, educators, and counselors.

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Acknowledgements

This work was made possible by the Indonesian Directorate General of Higher Education (DIKTI) under Beasiswa Luar Negeri (BLN) scholarship scheme.

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Correspondence to Teguh Wijaya Mulya.

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Conflict of interest

This article is part of the author’s doctoral research that was funded by Indonesian Directorate General of Higher Education (DIKTI) under Beasiswa Luar Negeri (BLN) scholarship scheme. Author’s view in this article does not represent the funder’s nor his university’s view.

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Ethical approval was granted by the university’s ethics committee (ref number 9046) where the author studied his doctorate. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Wijaya Mulya, T. Contesting the Dominant Discourse of Child Sexual Abuse: Sexual Subjects, Agency, and Ethics. Sexuality & Culture 22, 740–757 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-018-9506-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-018-9506-6

Keywords

  • Child sexual abuse
  • Sexual agency
  • Sexual subjectivity
  • Discourse
  • Indonesia