Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Whistleblower Reveals Root Cause of Trafficking

Rachel Durchslag, executive director and founder of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, reacts to a new film on human trafficking.
I recently saw The Whistleblower, which portrays the horrors of human trafficking and highlights the root cause of the trafficking industry: the johns and traffickers who profit from the existence of the sex trade.  The film is based on the real-life story of Kathryn Bolkovac, a former law enforcement official who was hired by a private contract firm to help with a peace-keeping mission in Bosnia. As the film unfolds, Bolkovac is confronted with the wide-scale human trafficking of vulnerable women and girls into the country.

When Bolkovac begins to investigate the trafficking crimes, she quickly discovers the involvement of both corrupt local law enforcement officials as well as UN peace keepers- individuals whose job it is to help rebuild Bosnia from the tragedies of wars but who instead ruin the lives of trafficked women for their own sexual gain.  Some of the most emotionally challenging moments of the film are the images of the peace keepers degrading and abusing trafficked women. Some perpetrators even post pictures of their violent acts on the internet to both publicize their exploits and also to normalize their harm.

It is important when viewing a movie such as The Whistleblower to remember that these crimes are not solely committed against international victims.  Domestic victims of prostitution are often inflicted with the same type of violence and sexual trauma.  And as CAASE’s research with men who purchase sex shows, johns do not care to know if a woman is being trafficked- all they care about is finding a body to rent for the evening.
This film reminds us how important it is to address the root cause of an issue to bring about impactful change. If peace-keepers had not trafficked and purchased women, then human trafficking would not have existed in Bosnia (where it barely did exist before the end of the war). If we can stop johns, pimps and traffickers from perpetuating the sex trade in the United States, exploitation in the sex trade would simply cease to exist.  This movie is an excellent call to action for all of us to continue working to end the demand for victims in order to end sexual exploitation.

Learn more about actions you can take on our toolkit page at