The Artful Dodgers

  • Rebecca O'Gorman

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


When thinking about Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and sex trafficking, what does the perceived victim look like? Who are the casualties of these crimes? Is the automatic thought that of a female sufferer? What kind of male is exploited? Deeper investigation into these questions - and the assumed answers - call for further exploration into what society sees as victimhood and who is allowed to lay claim to it.
Looking at literature where sexual exploitation is a theme, the narrative arc of many novels satisfies the need for a comfortable resolution. The reality of sexual exploitation is that there are few happy endings, and the lack of representation allows for a continuation of societal ignorance that must be challenged. The Artful Dodgers, is written as a sequel to Charles Dickens’ 1837 novel, Oliver Twist, and by creating a narrative for the gang members that Dickens offers no fate for except for a cursory sentence about Dodger and Charlie, this thesis will take the reader on an uncomfortable journey that presents a truer picture of male CSE having always occurred alongside female CSE, but how societal views about male sexual exploitation and the connotations for men and boys who fall prey to it, silence many victims.
When research led me to question a potential link between abuse and suicide, the findings were marred by a lack of accurate data about male abuse victims. The current suicide rate in males is 3:1 compared to that of females. My 25-year career, which has been based in supporting vulnerable people, raised the question of why this might be the case and has led to this thesis, which suggests that an indoctrinated toxic masculinity drives societal opinions about male victims of CSE and puts in place additional barriers for males, preventing many disclosing abuse and receiving support.
Date of Award16 Dec 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMichael Stewart (Main Supervisor) & Merrick Burrow (Co-Supervisor)

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