Document Type

Theses, Masters


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


5.4 SOCIOLOGY, Women's and gender studies, Social issues

Publication Details

Thesis successfully presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Philosophy, Technological University Dublin ,School of Social Sciences and Legal Studies, March 2010


This study evolved from a lack of research in Ireland into the incidence of young people involved in prostitution. In this research 22 young women involved in prostitution were interviewed and the results of these interviews were presented using qualitative analysis of descriptive data. The participants were aged between 17 and 26 years, with a mean age of 21 years. The age at initiation into prostitution ranged from 12 to 21 years of age, with a mean age of 17 years. Eleven participants became involved in prostitution before they were 18 years of age. The results were divided into four main sections, including the participants’ backgrounds, the participants’ initiation into prostitution, their experiences in prostitution and the emotional effects of being involved in prostitution. The findings from this study support the literature in the majority of cases. Sixteen participants came from disrupted family backgrounds, which included having parents who were deceased (10) or parents who were separated (10) (Some parents separated and subsequently died). Eleven participants were physically abused within their family home and half (11) were sexually abused as children. Nineteen of the 22 participants were homeless at some point in their lives. There was a very strong link between drug use and prostitution. Twenty participants were addicted to heroin (18) or methadone (2) at the time of the interview. The experiences of the participants in prostitution were marked by violence, with little resources available and few services to support these young people. Regarding victimisation, 12 participants were raped while working in prostitution. The study highlighted several emotional effects of prostitution. Thirteen participants were on medication for either depression or insomnia. Fifteen participants attempted suicide at least once. This study makes several recommendations, some of which are urgently needed to support young people who are involved in prostitution.