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'Figure it out' - need for more objective reporting on migrant women

On January 24, 2009

An interesting article here from the Murung Express, a newspaper from Nagaland in Northest India, on skewed and inaccurate media coverage of migrant women.

There is a lack of journalistic attention paid to the issue of migrant workers rights and the coverage that is received tends to demonstrate the misunderstanding of terms such as is trafficking, migration, sex work, child abuse, child labour and exploitation. Often, one is mistaken for the other or the official or police version – also guilty of wrong definitions – is quoted without analysis or critique. This article is therefore offering a critique of those journalist that sensationalise an issue as serious as migrant workers human rights with little regard for the accuracy of the information they have used.

The article is arguing for a better and clearer use and provision of information regarding those who migrate. The authors highlight the common misconception that all movements of women across borders is forced, and mainly for the purpose of prostitution which actually violates a woman’s right to free movement, livelihood options and choosing a country of residence. One of the pre-requisites for dealing with a problem is the availability of accurate data from reliable sources. However, media coverage on trafficking of women and children clearly reveals scanty and unverified data. Using such broad terms such as ‘trafficking’ does little to inform the reader about the circumstances migrant workers may find themselves in and although it may make a better story it is, ultimately, helping no one. Another problem is that unverified data, usually attributed to ‘a human rights agency or NGO’ is recycled without actually being attributed to an accurate source. There is no attempt to follow up stories or do any investigative research. Therefore these articles are not helping uncover the roots of migrant exploitation, instead they just provide a written form of unhelpful, misinformed speculation.

By Olivia Furber