Prostituted Girls and the Grown-Up Gaze

Global Studies of Childhood 1.4 (2011): 302-313.

12 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2015

Date Written: 2011


This article examines the representation of under-age girls in the sex trade through a comparative analysis of the social scientific monograph Gangs and Girls: understanding juvenile prostitution and the fictional novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals. Through a semiotic examination of the book covers, and a discursive deconstruction of the fairy-tale conventions of the textual content, the author considers how the ‘grown up gaze’ is both gratified and sometimes challenged. She further demonstrate that ironically, the fictional account in Lullabies offers a more nuanced consideration of the socio-economic factors that contribute to the abuse and sexual exploitation of children than the expert account in Gangs. The article concludes by suggesting ‘grown ups’ must be cognizant of the voyeuristic tendencies and the political pitfalls of adult renderings of girl prostitutes.

Keywords: prostitution, literature, juveniles, youth, voyeurism

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Khan, Ummni, Prostituted Girls and the Grown-Up Gaze (2011). Global Studies of Childhood 1.4 (2011): 302-313., Available at SSRN:

Ummni Khan (Contact Author)

Carleton University ( email )

1125 colonel By Drive
Ontario K1S 5B6

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