Slavers among us

 
Rachel Weisz portrays Kathy Bolkovac in The Whistleblower“Those girls are whores of war.” 
 
That brutal quote from the new movie The Whistleblower tells you precisely what human traffickers and their apologists think of the sex slaves they exploit. To them these women – and in many cases, young girls — are worthless, non-human, sluts, garbage.
 
But to Kathryn Bolkovac, they were innocents who were robbed of their lives, dignity, and voices by the very people who should have protected them.
 
Kathryn was a Nebraska policewoman when she went to Bosnia in 1999 as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force. The recently divorced mother took the job because the high salary would let her to move closer to her teenaged daughter. When she arrived in Sarajevo she had no idea she would eventually uncover a shocking sex trafficking scandal. What was even more disturbing and perverted was the alleged cover-up by her employer and high-ranking U.N. officials. She was fired after exposing the illicit and degrading connections.
 
The compelling movie The Whistleblower is based on her experiences and on her book,The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice.
 
Academy-Award winning actress, Rachel Weisz portrays Kathy Bolkovac in The Whistleblower. The gritty film — by first-time director Larysa Kondracki — contains raw and horrifying scenes of torture and rape, and a creepy scene showing Kathy’s discovery of a sex torture chamber. Yet, they pale to sequences that capture the greed and depravity of the American and European “peacekeepers” who trafficked and abused young girls like cattle, or took payoffs to ignore it.
 
The true faces of the movie are the two Ukrainian girls, who are tricked into the illicit trade, one of them by her own aunt. This kind of thing really happens. All they wanted were respectable jobs. All they found was a dead end.
 
Director Kondracki does an excellent job of building the suspense, as Kathy discovers the full extent of the corruption in her organization and realizes that her own life in danger.
 
The Whistleblower powerfully walks the line between suspense thriller and docu-drama; it is engrossing and informative. Rachel Weisz is captivating as the dogged police investigator, and the portrayal of war-ravaged Bosnia is grim and accurate.
 
 Kathy BolkovacKathryn Bolkovac didn’t set out to be crusader, but she didn’t turn away when she uncovered the dirty secrets that jeopardized defenseless young women.  She has paid a high price for her intervention, but says she would do it all again.
 
What is particularly appalling is that none of the men involved in torture, trafficking, and rape have been prosecuted. As U.N. peacekeepers, they enjoy diplomatic immunity. Many returned home, or perhaps are now employed doing similar work elsewhere.
 
In the movie, the company has a fictionalized name.
 
The Daily Beast reports that “at least two of the men involved in the trafficking at DynCorp (her former employer), have been promoted to upper management, while she (Kathryn) has been forced out of the policing field entirely.”
 
DynCorp insists the issues raised by Kathryn Bolkovac “were thoroughly investigated, and were aggressively and responsibly addressed.” It quotes an agent with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command saying “neither DynCorp nor its employees were involved” in human trafficking. “The Company did not find any evidence of human trafficking involving DI (DynCorp),” the statement says, “but did find areas where improvements could be made. As a result, a handful of individuals were terminated, the Company reviewed and strengthened its procedures and policies, and integrated into its companywide training and employment agreements specific information about human trafficking and policies to prevent it.”
 
This is clearly a very carefully constructed statement. I urge you to read it carefully.
 
Bolkovac eventually won her court case against her termination. But the victory was hollow. "The anger comes and goes," she told The Daily Beast in an article by Jessica Bennett. "Sure, I won my lawsuit, but I never got any real answers."
 
Sex trafficking concerns everyone. Sexual slavery reduces women and children to objects, robbing them of their humanity. It will only stop when demand for sex slaves is stopped. We need a zero tolerance policy for it, and we need to pursue slavers and their clients relentlessly.
 
Sex trafficking happens every day, everywhere in the world. We need to stop it.
 
To learn more about stopping trafficking:
 
20 ways to stop trafficking: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/id/help/index.htm
 
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