The Celebritization of Human Trafficking

Dina Francesca Haynes

Human trafficking, and especially sex trafficking, is not only susceptible to alluring and sensational narratives, it also plays into the celebrity-as-rescuer ideal that receives considerable attention from the media, the public, and policy-makers. While some celebrities develop enough expertise to speak with authority on the topic, many others are neither knowledgeable nor accurate in their efforts to champion antitrafficking causes. Prominent policy-makers allow celebrity activ- ists to influence their opinions and even consult with them for advice regarding public policies. Emblematic of larger, fundamental problems with the dominant discourse, funding allocations, and legislation in cur- rent antitrafficking initiatives in the United States and elsewhere, celebrity activism is not significantly advanc- ing the eradication of human trafficking and may even be doing harm by diverting attention from aspects of the problem and solution that sorely require attention.