Mediated Representation of Human Trafficking: Issues, Context, and Consequence
The issue of human trafficking is complex and there are numerous debates in the field that continue to divide both professionals and academics who work on this topic. Giving voice to advocates of different perspectives, the media have been seen as a facilitator of these debates. This essential function, however, gives the media great power to influence the debate and set the agenda by choosing what to report on, and how. This chapter reflects on the author’s PhD research and other available literature on trafficking representation in the media and its implications. In the first section, the chapter identifies essential roles that the media can play in fighting human trafficking. These roles expand far beyond awareness raising and prevention and include mobilization of public support, influencing policy change, monitoring institutions involved in tackling trafficking, deconstructing stereotypes, and fostering a supportive environment in which victims recover. In the second part of the chapter, main issues characteristic of media reporting on human trafficking are identified. These are the 3S’s of mediated representation of trafficking – Stereotyping, Simplification, and Sensationalism. After elaborating on these problems, the text turns to the context and consequences of media reporting on trafficking through considering major shifts in antitrafficking discourse. Consideration of political, cultural, and economic context in which contemporary media reports are created suggests that the representation of human trafficking is being used to preserve state power, the current world order, and wealth distribution. The chapter concludes with recommendations to media and antitrafficking professionals that could lead to better reporting on human trafficking.
KeywordsHuman trafficking Media representation
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