Monday, September 5, 2011

“The Whistleblower” film sharpens issues on sex-trafficking at the UN

Lisa A. Phillips – Women News Network – WNN Reviews


(WNN) BOSNIA: In 1999, Kathryn Bolkovac, a single mother from Nebraska and a seasoned cop, joined the U.N. peacekeeping force in Bosnia, a country still in tumult after its brutal civil war.

Her job was to investigate the sex trafficking of young women from Eastern Europe. Once she began collecting evidence from the victims she discovered that a number of U.N. officers – the very people who were supposed to be keeping the rule of law – were themselves playing part in prostitution rings.

Bolkovac told her employers, the American company DynCorp, what was going on. Instead of being lauded for her investigative acumen she lost her job. Her findings were considered bad public relations for the lucrative rebuilding effort.
After a two-year legal battle in England, where the DynCorp office that dealt with peacekeeping related contracts in Bosnia was based, a tribunal ruled that Boklovac was unfairly dismissed, thereby clearing her name.
Bolkovac’s saga and the plight of the victims of sex trafficking in Bosnia periodically made headlines in England and Eastern Europe. At the time, the international community had largely turned its attention away from Bosnia where the fallibility of the peacekeeping force seemed inconsequential. In comparison, the well-documented horrors of the rapes, sniper fire and ethnic cleansing of the Bosnian civil war out-weighed the media’s interests.
The new feature film, The Whistleblower, based on Bolkovac’s book and personal story, will likely change that. With shocking graphic scenes of the rape, torture and exploitation of the women caught up in the sex trade, The Whistleblower is an unsparing revved up docu-dramatization of what Bolkovac uncovered – and her colleagues’ efforts to keep her findings buried.

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