Tag Archives: Representations of human trafficking

Baker, Carrie N. Racialized Rescue Narratives in Public Discourses on Youth Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the United States. Politics & Gender: 1–28. doi:10.1017/S1743923X18000661.
This article presents an analysis of how activists, politicians, and the media framed youth involvement in the sex trade during the 1970s, the 1990s, and the 2000s in the United States. Across these periods of public concern about the issue, similar framing has recurred that has drawn upon gendered and racialized notions of victimization and perpetration. This frame has successfully brought attention to this issue by exploiting public anxieties at historical moments when social change was threatening white male dominance. Using intersectional feminist theory, I argue that mainstream rhetoric opposing the youth sex trade worked largely within neoliberal logics, ignoring histories of dispossession and structural violence and reinforcing individualistic notions of personhood and normative ideas about subjectivity and agency. As part of the ongoing project of racial and gender formation in US society, this discourse has shored up neoliberal governance, particularly the build-up of the prison industrial complex, and it has obscured the state’s failure to address the myriad social problems that make youth vulnerable to the sex trade.

Bouché, Vanessa, Amy Farrell, und Dana E. Wittmer‐Wolfe. „Challenging the Dominant Frame: The Moderating Impact of Exposure and Knowledge on Perceptions of Sex Trafficking Victimization*“. Social Science Quarterly, 9. März 2018.
Human trafficking problems have largely been framed by political elites and the media as a sexual crime involving innocent victims who are largely women and children. It is unclear how this framing impacts the public’s attitudes about the issue. Here, we ask what types of sex trafficking victim frames produce the strongest response among the American public and how does increased exposure and accurate knowledge about the issue moderate the impact of the victim frames?


To answer these questions, we utilize data from a unique nationally representative survey experiment fielded to 2,000 Americans in which we designed a 2 × 2 × 2 experiment manipulating the gender, age, and nationality of sex trafficking victims.


We find the age of the victim has the greatest impact on affective, cognitive, and behavioral responses to human trafficking, but that these victim frames are conditional on the amount of exposure a subject has had to the issue of human trafficking and the level of correct knowledge he or she possesses about human trafficking.


Victim framing in public discourse on sex trafficking does make a difference, and the reasons these frames elicit different responses are complex and moderated by respondents’ exposure to information and knowledge about the issue.

Since the declaration by the United Nations that awareness raising should be a key part of efforts to combat human trafficking, government and non-government organizations have produced numerous public awareness campaigns designed to capture the public’s attention and sympathy. These campaigns represent the ‘problem’ of trafficking in specific ways, creating heroes and villains by placing the blame for trafficking on some, whilst obscuring the responsibility of others. This article adopts Bacchi’s ‘what is the problem represented to be?’ framework for examining the politicization of problem representation in 18 anti-trafficking awareness campaigns. It is argued that these campaigns construct a narrow understanding of the problem through the depiction of ‘ideal offenders’. In particular, a strong focus on the demand for commercial sex as causative of human trafficking serves to obscure the problematic role of consumerism in a wide range of industries, and perpetuates an understanding of trafficking that fails to draw a necessary distinction between the demand for labour, and the demand for ‘exploitable’ labour. This problem representation also obscures the role governments in destination countries may play in causing trafficking through imposing restrictive migration regimes that render migrants vulnerable to traffickers.

Dowman, Scott (2013): Victims of exploitation or victims of the media: Rethinking media coverage of human trafficking, Ethical Space Vol. 10 Issue 2/3.


During the past decade there has been increasing media coverage about human trafficking. In most cases the victims are depicted in stereotypes. For example, once freed from their abuse they are referred to as being ‘rescued’, usually by a foreigner, or they are presented as being vulnerable people, sold by greedy or drug-affected parents with little regard for their children. This simplistic presentation of complex transnational crimes inaccurately depicts human trafficking and stigmatises the survivors of human exploitation. This paper is based on eight years of research, including four as a community development worker in Southeast Asia with anti-trafficking non-government organisations.