Debating credibility: Refugees and rape in the media

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 2019, 42 (1), pp. 4 - 36
Issue Date:
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© John Benjamins Publishing Company. This article explores public debates about credibility in media discourse regarding a Somali refugee who was raped on Nauru. Given the pseudonym “Abyan”, she was living on Nauru as a result of Australian refugee policy and was brought to Australia for medical assistance. Her treatment by the Australian authorities became the subject of debate and was widely discussed in the Australian media. Analyzing a corpus of media articles reporting and commenting on this debate, this article explores how the media’s representations of the key actors shape their credibility. Reflecting existing research, this article finds that Abyan’s experience is used to support broader policy arguments. Further, the discourse presents Abyan as a key speaker, despite her limited ability to defend her credibility. The article concludes that credibility remains an important theme in discourse on refugees and that power asymmetries hidden within this discourse create obstacles for those wishing to challenge it.
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