This paper applies the concept of the victim-offender overlap to Australian cases of trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation through an analysis of six cases involving female offenders. To do this, a thematic qualitative text analysis approach is adopted to focus on the judges’ sentencing remarks. Based on this methodology, the paper identifies two themes, categorized as ‘similar circumstances to victims’ and ‘she should have known’. These two themes are linked, and allow us to reflect on the judges’ expectation of behavior by those women who were previously victimized and sexually exploited. This paper argues that such expectation is idealistic, is not supported by the literature on the victim-offender overlap and does not consider the social structural constraints, including lack of opportunities, for a comprehensive exercise of agency by the former victim. Finally, this expectation is formed because the Australian criminal justice system relies heavily on a clear differentiation between the completely innocent victim and the completely guilty offender, despite the identification of an individual as a victim or an offender having significant consequences for how the criminal justice system responds to that individual.
- criminal justice system
- ideal offender
- ideal victim
- Trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation
- victim-offender overlap