Analysis of coverage of trafficking over time in the national newspaper Izvestiia suggests that attention to the issue mounted as a result of the parliamentary attention to the issue (table 6.2; see appendix 2 for method)^1 There was a small
The Incidence of Various Terms to Refer to Trafficking in Izvestiia, 1995—2005
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increase in references to trafficking around the 1997 parliamentary hearing and a much larger increase during the Duma’s consideration of a bill on trafficking in persons. There is a similar pattern across Russia: whereas in 1995 there were only three articles on trafficking in persons (torgovlia liud’mi) in national newspapers, by 2003 there were several hundred articles in both national and regional newspapers. This later interest reflects the conscious efforts of the Duma’s working group, which held more than fifty press events in 2003 organized by a press liaison. With some 1,700 articles having used this term between 1995 and 2005, “trafficking in persons”—the official translation of the U. N. protocol—had become the agreed-upon way of talking about the issue. By 2004, trafficking had become the issue that the Russian press was more likely to report on, save rape.
However, a more detailed read of newspaper coverage illustrates that coverage did not equal outrage at the human rights violations involved in trafficking in women. Most articles are sensationalist, highlighting aspects of sex and scandal (Tiuriukanova 2006, 70). Focusing on sex trafficking rather than other types of labor trafficking, articles tend to blame the women for either being prostitutes (and thus bringing on the problem themselves) or being a part of a particularly downtrodden segment of society. Very few discuss human rights violations or the role of Russian nationals in the process. Many other articles mention trafficking but, especially before 2000, refer to the kidnapping of individuals for ransom and labor slavery in Chechnya or Afghanistan or refer to the large number of adoptions by foreigners as trafficking in children (see also Kleimenov and Shamkov 2005).