Africa: Human Trafficking and the Danger of Sensationalising Belief Over Fact


Photographs of nooses, bound hands, bruised faces and gagged mouths of women and children - with the words 'save', 'innocent', 'bought' or 'sold' - are appearing on billboards and on social and other media. This kind of imagery is sensationalist and designed to evoke a social and moral panic. They do little more than distract us from the underlying issues that make human trafficking possible.

We seem to be living in a world where facts no longer matter; where beliefs prevail over science; where truth is unable to generate the same fervour and excitement as opinion.

Newspaper headlines and television discussions can be so riddled with layers of sensationalism that it's nearly impossible to decipher fact from fiction. More often than not, sensationalism takes precedence because readership and viewership increase if people find a particular story compelling.

Some become so convinced of a particular thing that it eventually becomes fact in their minds. And of course, there are those people, including some political leaders, who dismiss truth as "fake news" if it doesn't align with their worldviews and convictions.

But there is great danger in prioritising belief over fact, and in letting belief drive public policy and government responses.


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