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Vulnerable bodily integrity: under-recognised sexual violence among girls in residential care institutions

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Our focus is on under-recognised experiences of sexual violence among adolescent girls in residential care institutions in Finland. Sexual violations of the girls' bodily integrity were connected to transactional sex and trauma-based behaviour. The girls' experiences of sexual violence partly appeared to be internalised sexism, a form of collective social violence manifested on a personal level. However, if this phenomenon is discussed only as self-harming or self-abusive behaviour, it may be seen solely as an individual problem of the girls themselves, hiding the society's and perpetrators' responsibilities. Based on the feminist theoretical framework and critical evidencebased insights, we propose the term 'internalised sexual violence' to describe this phenomenon of under-recognised sexual violence. Recognising the inadequacy of the 'victim–perpetrator' view of violent experiences in one's own life and naming the phenomenon of one's own involvement are steps towards a proper and nuanced conceptualisation of internalised sexual violence. We recommend that this risk-taking and trouble-seeking form of sexual behaviour be recognised and identified in the World Health Organisation's typology of violence. Moreover, there is a need to organise more training for both professionals and girls about gendered, sexualised violence and internalised sexual violence.
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Keywords: BODILY INTEGRITY; GIRLS; INTERNALISED SEXUAL VIOLENCE; RESIDENTIAL CARE INSTITUTION; SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 February 2018

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  • The Journal of Gender-Based Violence (JGBV), is the first international journal based in Europe to show case the work of scholars across disciplinary and topic boundaries, and from a range of methodologies.

    The journal acknowledges both the breadth of gender-based violence (GBV) and its links to gendered inequalities. It aims to continue to document the voices and experiences of victims and survivors of GBV, to publish work regarding those who perpetrate GBV and of the varied and complex social structures, inequalities and gender norms through which GBV is produced and sustained. The journal recognises the intersection of gender with other identities and power relations, such as ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, faith, disability and economic status.

    JGBV will publish high quality papers that contribute to understanding of GBV, policy, and/or activism, on sexual violence, domestic abuse, ‘honour’-based violence, prostitution, trafficking and/or reproductive violence and abuse in a wide range of intimate, familial, community and societal contexts.

    The editors invite interest from scholars working across the social sciences and related fields including social policy, sociology, politics, criminology, law, social psychology, development and economics, as well as disciplines allied to medicine, health and wellbeing.

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