Friday, March 16, 2012

Counting Sex Slaves: Moral Panics, the Mass Media, and Christian Propaganda

This is a very bare bones post. It's just a list of suggested reading on the subject of the "human trafficking" meme. The list is definitely slanted toward skepticism, but not (quite) exclusively so.

If you want to get right to the good stuff, then I suggest you wade into (a) Stopping Traffic by Liz Kelly and Linda Regan, 2000 (link #22 in the list below), (b) Reconceptualizing Approaches to Human Trafficking by Kathleen Kim & Grace Chang, 2007 (link #14), (c) Ronald Weitzer's The Social Construction of Sex Trafficking, 2007 (link #15), and (d) the interview with Nandita Sharma and Jessica Yee by Robyn Maynard titled Sex work, migration and anti-trafficking, 2010 (link #6).

On the other hand, if you want the quick and dirty version then I suggest you look for the following names in the list below: Nick Davies, Rahila Gupta, Bruno Waterfield, and Cathy Young.

  1. The New Christian Abolition Movement Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor, Feb. 5, 2012
  2. The Super Bowl Prostitution Hoax: Indianapolis mobilizes for an epic battle with an urban legend by Pete Kotz, Thursday, Feb 2 2012 (this is the most recent installment in an ongoing Village Voice series: The Truth Behind Sex Trafficking: A Village Voice Investigative Series)
  3. Human trafficking and the sex trade: Faith groups mobilized ReligionLink.Com June 14, 2011
  4. Women's Funding Network Sex Trafficking Study Is Junk Science By Nick Pinto Thursday, Mar 24 2011, PhoenixNewTimes
  5. The launching of the CNN "Freedom Project" By Alex Weprin,, March 9, 2011
  6. Sex work, migration and anti-trafficking: Interviews with Nandita Sharma and Jessica Yee by Robyn Maynard • Jul 1, 2010, Briarpatch Magazine
  7. “40 000 prostitutes” – how rumours and lies become fact Brett Davidson, wingseed (a media advocacy blog), March 19 2010
  8. "Stop this illicit trade in bullshit stories"! Bruno Waterfield, spiked-online, March 18 2010
  9. Another Exaggerated Sex-Trade Stat Carl Bialik, WSJ, October 23, 2009
  10. Sex trafficking is no illusion [response to Nick Davies, see below] Rahila Gupta,, Tuesday 20 October 2009
  11. Prostitution and trafficking – the anatomy of a moral panic Nick Davies, The Guardian, Monday 19 October 2009
  12. Inquiry fails to find single trafficker who forced anybody into prostitution Nick Davies, The Guardian, Monday 19 October 2009
  13. The Truth of Trafficking Rahila Gupta, Guardian, April 2009
  14. Reconceptualizing Approaches to Human Trafficking: New Directions and Perspectives from the Field(s) Kathleen Kim & Grace Chang, Loyola Law School, Dec. 2007
  15. "The Social Construction of Sex Trafficking: Ideology and Institutionalization of a Moral Crusade" by Ronald Weitzer, Politics & Society 35(3):447–475, September 2007.
  16. Exposed: the myth of the World Cup ‘sex slaves’ by Bruno Waterfield,, Feb. 14, 2007
  17. "Prostitution panic" by Ronald Weitzer, American Sexuality (online journal), February 9, 2006.
  18. "The growing moral panic over prostitution and sex trafficking" by Ronald Weitzer, The Criminologist 30(5):1,3–5, September/October 2005. (Also see Weitzer's webpage at George Washington University:
  19. 'Human Trafficking': Exploiting Misery and Creating It, review by Tom Shales, Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2005
  20. Human Trafficking: The Miniseries starring Mira Sorvino and Donal Sutherland, first aired on Oct. 24 2005
  21. Think Again: Human Trafficking David A. Feingold, Foreign Policy Magazine, August, 2005
  22. Was story about sexual trafficking exaggerated? By Cathy Young, Boston Globe, Feb. 9 2004
  23. Stopping Traffic (pdf) Liz Kelly and Linda Regan, 2000