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International News Coverage of Human Trafficking Arrests and Prosecutions: A Content Analytic Study
Unformatted Document Text:  trafficking research, and this study in particular, because they suggest that cases involving sexual exploitation would be covered by the news media if the idea holds true that the demand side of the global sex industry is fuelled by developed nations. 32 The results of this study, particularly relating to the number of individuals trafficked for sexual exploitation, may explain why, in the initial stages of the data collection, many articles were eliminated from consideration because they failed to address a concrete case of human trafficking. Many such articles told stories of young women forced into sexual servitude, but frequently failed to mention any specific details regarding a trafficking offence and rarely used real names and locations. While it is certainly possible that these editorial-style reports were based on actual cases of trafficking, little explanation can be provided for why some articles were specifically related to a trafficking offence and others merely adopted what could be perceived as a scare-tactic approach to addressing sex slavery. This tactical method of evoking fear from the general public is also evident with the growing popularity of television news media coverage, like MSNBC’s “Sex Slaves in the Suburbs” (2008), which seeks to address issues pertaining to human trafficking. One particular article assessed by this study suggested individuals practice diligence in assessing the possibility that their neighbours may be victims of human trafficking (VerPlanck, 2007). 32 In the case of sexual exploitation of children, the notion that the demand side controls the industry may still hold true; however, the difference in the case of children is that the demand side will travel to countries, such as Thailand, in order to engage in sexual acts with minors. 60

Authors: Denton, Erin.
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trafficking research, and this study in particular, because they suggest that cases 
involving sexual exploitation would be covered by the news media if the idea 
holds true that the demand side of the global sex industry is fuelled by developed 
nations.
The results of this study, particularly relating to the number of individuals 
trafficked for sexual exploitation, may explain why, in the initial stages of the data 
collection, many articles were eliminated from consideration because they failed 
to address a concrete case of human trafficking.  Many such articles told stories 
of young women forced into sexual servitude, but frequently failed to mention any 
specific details regarding a trafficking offence and rarely used real names and 
locations.  While it is certainly possible that these editorial-style reports were 
based on actual cases of trafficking, little explanation can be provided for why 
some articles were specifically related to a trafficking offence and others merely 
adopted what could be perceived as a scare-tactic approach to addressing sex 
slavery.
This tactical method of evoking fear from the general public is also evident 
with the growing popularity of television news media coverage, like MSNBC’s 
“Sex Slaves in the Suburbs” (2008), which seeks to address issues pertaining to 
human trafficking.  One particular article assessed by this study suggested 
individuals practice diligence in assessing the possibility that their neighbours 
may be victims of human trafficking (VerPlanck, 2007).  
32
  In the case of sexual exploitation of children, the notion that the demand side controls the 
industry may still hold true; however, the difference in the case of children is that the demand 
side will travel to countries, such as Thailand, in order to engage in sexual acts with minors.
60


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