Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Prostitution and trafficking – the anatomy of a moral panic

There is something familiar about the tide of misinformation which has swept through the subject of sex trafficking in the UK: it flows through exactly the same channels as the now notorious torrent about Saddam Hussein's weapons.

In the story of UK sex trafficking, the conclusions of academics who study the sex trade have been subjected to the same treatment as the restrained reports of intelligence analysts who studied Iraqi weapons – stripped of caution, stretched to their most alarming possible meaning and tossed into the public domain. There, they have been picked up by the media who have stretched them even further in stories which have then been treated as reliable sources by politicians, who in turn provided quotes for more misleading stories.

In both cases, the cycle has been driven by political opportunists and interest groups in pursuit of an agenda. In the case of sex trafficking, the role of the neo-conservatives and Iraqi exiles has been played by an unlikely union of evangelical Christians with feminist campaigners, who pursued the trafficking tale to secure their greater goal, not of regime change, but of legal change to abolish all prostitution. The sex trafficking story is a model of misinformation. It began to take shape in the mid 1990s, when the collapse of economies in the old Warsaw Pact countries saw the working flats of London flooded with young women from eastern Europe. Soon, there were rumours and media reports that attached a new word to these women. They had been "trafficked".

The Guardian

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a problem here and I don't quite know how to explain it.

As I see it some ideas are just appealing and infectious. They do not have to have any merit in fact but none the less people will believe them and be eager to to so.

Feminist are good at generating these ideas. The problem is that they can not be easily stopped by any amount of contrary evidence. Somehow what they the feminists say becomes part of peoples belief system and view of the world.

You are correct to point out that politicians have the same 'skill'.WMD is a good example. That idea is still believed by many explicitly and by many others implicitly.