Theses Doctoral

Sexuality, Social Inequalities, and Sexual Vulnerability among Low-Income Youth in the City of Ayacucho, Peru

Yon Leau, Carmen Juana

This ethnographic study explores diverse ways in which sexuality and social hierarchies and inequalities interact in the lives of low-income youth who were trained as peer-educators and sexual health and rights advocates in Ayacucho, Peru. It examines three central questions: 1) How are meanings about sexuality related to social hierarchies and social prestige among these youth? 2) How do quotidian manifestations of social inequity shape vulnerability of youth to sexual abuse and sexual risks, and their sexual agency to face these situations? and 3) What are the possibilities and limitations of existent sexual rights educational programs to diminish sexual vulnerability of youth facing diverse forms of inequality, such as economic, gender, ethnic and inter-generational disparities? I analyze what may be termed as the political economy of sexual vulnerability among low-income youth, and show the concrete ways in which it operates in their everyday life. Likewise, this research studies sexuality as a domain of reproduction, resignification and critique of social inequality and social hierarchies. The context is an Andean city, which in recent decades has experienced incomplete processes of democratization, and also a greater penetration of consumerism and transnational ideas and images. This study also reveals cultural logics of youth about sexual risks and complex dimensions of their sexual and gender agency. In terms of policies and programs, this research offers evidence and reflections about some challenges and limitations of a participatory sexual rights project within a context of poverty and social inequalities in urban low-income areas of Peru.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Parker, Richard G.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 11, 2014