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Feminist Media Studies

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Child marriage -- Law and legislation -- United States, Child marriage -- Social aspects -- United States, Violence against women -- United States, Children -- Social conditions -- United States, Mass media and public opinion


The news media play an important role in influencing public perceptions and raising awareness of an issue. This research analyzes media framing of child/forced marriage through an examination of six US national newspapers over a ten-year period. It probes how narratives are constructed based on issue perception, blame attribution, and protagonist perceptions. It finds that print media has afforded increasing coverage to minimum marriage age legislation in the US. Mediated by advocacy organizations and survivors, the discourse surrounding child marriage has used a thematic frame as a legal issue with the onus on the state to amend laws facilitating child marriage. Forced marriage of adults has been framed as thematic too, but regarded as a cultural imperative. This culturalization of violence prevents forced marriage from being recognized as gender violence. Thus, while the thematic framing is laudable, the type of thematic framing matters, especially concerning blame attribution and the perceptions of protagonists, to fully comprehend this form of gender violence.


This is the author's manuscript version available 18 months after publication.

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Available for download on Monday, September 23, 2024