Mediating Justice in Sex Trafficking : A closer look to media representations and discourses about the sex trade in the context of the Epstein case
Sammanfattning: Sex trafficking, the fastest growing form of human trafficking, exacerbates among the world’s most vulnerable and marginalized women and girls. News media, as powerful social institutions, have the potential to shape opinions and attitudes towards critical issues (Sobel 2014). So how does two of the most internationally influential newspapers report about the sex trade? Seeking answers, I study sex trafficking news articles published from January 2019 to February 2020 by The Guardian and The New York times about the sex trade in the context of the highly mediatic Epstein case. From a media justice and feminist perspective (see Fraser. 2009; Silverstone. 2007; Couldry. 2013; Friedman and Johnston. 2013) I design an explanatory sequential mixed method study. In the first stage of the study I conduct a quantitative content analysis of 74 articles to explore wether the Epstein case may be reflected in the reporting on sex trafficking, more generally in the amount of coverage and its content. In the second stage of the study I conduct a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) on a smaller sample of 6 articles, to gain insights into how are victims, perpetrators and patriarchal power abuses in the sex trade discursively constructed. The findings emerging from the study provide empirical evidence to suggest that: (I) marginalized women have unequal accesses to media recognition and representation in the studied sample. (II) These articles tend to underrepresent and misrepresent victims and survivors, their voices and experiences while prioritizing male, powerful and privileged ones. (III) The studied articles contain discourses that legitimize patriarchal views of sexual violence and slavery.
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