Friday, July 20, 2012

27. Whistleblower (2010)

Human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation must be one of the most abhorrent abuses suffered by people (mainly women and children) today.  A modern form of slavery, women and girls are kidnapped, beaten and raped by traffickers who make huge profits exploiting women to men who pay for sex (whether it is consensual or not).  The Protocol on human trafficking to prevent, suppress and punish human trafficking forms part of the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.  But what happens if this organized crime is being perpetrated by those working in international organisations?  What happens if those involved in exploiting and raping women are UN peacekeepers with immunity?  And what happens to the person brave enough to report what's going on? 

Whistleblower (2010) directed by Canadian Larysa Kondrachi tells the fictionalised story of Kathyrn Bolkovac (played by Rachel Weisz).  Bolkovac was an American police officer sent to Bosnia under a contract with Dyncorp, a private contractor.    When in Bosnia, she uncovered the involvement of UN peacekeepers in the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women post conflict in the Balkans.  The film dramatises the protection that the UN gave the soldiers and police men involved in the exploitation of the women.  These men enjoyed the privileges of immunity.  Balkovac however was fired by the company in what the UK employment tribunal determined to be an unfair dismissal on account of her investigation and reporting of human trafficking.  

An excellent and hard hitting movie with big name actors including Vanessa Redgrave and Monica Belluci the film is a must see for those interested in gender issues in post conflict situations and UN accountability (or lack thereof) for the criminal actions of personnel.  

For a follow up on the real life events since the film was released (including an apology from Ban Ki Moon and a screening by the UN) see the guardian article here.

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