A sociological theory of ‘reintegration’ is proposed for Cambodian female victims of sex-trafficking and sexual violence and locally derived benchmarks for assessing reintegrative success. Employing Grounded Theory Methodology, 53 qualitative interviews were undertaken between August 2010 and May 2012. These explored the perspectives of formerly ‘reintegrated’ recipients of assistance and others they considered important to reintegration. Despite the range of competing perspectives identified, a convergence emerged upon the primacy of acceptance to reintegrative success, even as its achievement was divergently configured within modern-urban and traditional-collectivistic social milieu.
Two pathways to reintegration are therefore proposed, with significant implications for protection assistance. This grounded theory draws upon various resources including Honneth’s recognition framework, Bourdieu’s notion of habitus, Ledgerwood’s theorization of traditional Khmer feminine ideals, and Turner’s cosmopolitan conception of shared vulnerability. For these young women, a life lived with dignity chiefly depends upon access to either traditional or modernist forms of acceptance (or reciprocal recognition), offered in the light of cultural norms inherent to groups and social institutions.
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