In 2010, our Secretary General, Madeleine Rees, was portrayed in the film The Whistleblower, which raised attention on the 2001 scandal involving human trafficking in Bosnia.
The focus on UN personnel’s and peacekeepers’ abuse of vulnerable women (and men) in war and conflict zones has snowballed since the release of the film, but there is still a long way to go.
On 6th February, WILPF United Kingdom is giving time to think, learn and discuss gender-based violence and human trafficking. This will happen through the screening of The Whistleblower, followed by a panel discussion.
If you are in London on that date, then come and participate in the event. Madeleine Rees and Doctor Gina Heathcote, lecturer in Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, will be there to answer all your questions.
The movie: The Whistleblower, a drama on human trafficking
The Whistleblower is a 2010 drama directed by Larysa Kondracki on a sex trafficking scandal covered up by the UN.
It reflects true events and tells the story of a US police officer, Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz), who accepts a job offer in post-war Bosnia. She is a bright UN peacekeeper and soon becomes the gender focal point, finding herself involved in the cases of young girls victims of sex trafficking and slavery.
However, her expectations of contributing to reconstruction in the devastated country are shattered when she uncovers a wide-scale sex trafficking network. Private contractors, international diplomats and UN staff are all involved in a reality of corruption, violence and cover-up.
Kathryn knows too much and she is fired, but Madeleine Rees (Vanessa Redgrave) and Peter Ward (David Strathairn) support her investigation and help her bring the scandal to light.
The event: an opportunity to come together, think and discuss
After its release, The Whistleblower got quite a bit of press, as it depicts a painful and embarrassing chapter for the UN. The movie raised a stink about the thorny issues of UN’s complicity in human trafficking and it received a thoughtful response from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The need for a frank and honest discussion on the UN turning a blind eye to the trafficking was raised, as well as the need to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for UN peacekeepers involved in sexual exploitation and create a conduct and disciplinary unit.
However, over two years after the release of the movie, it is about time to ask: What has really changed?
What about the prosecution of peacekeepers, private contracting companies, organisations and States involved in such gender-based abuses?
What about the legal environment surrounding such behaviour?
And what is the current situation of women’s rights, and what can be done to eradicate human trafficking?
The screening of The Whistleblower on Wednesday, 6th February (Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, 4 – 7 PM) and the following drinks reception and panel discussion offer an opportunity to answer these and more questions.
If you are in the British capital on that date, do not miss the opportunity to take part in the event!