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Upcoming Screening of the Whistleblower in London

1 February 2013

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.

Download the invitation.

The movie: The Whistleblower, a drama on human trafficking

YouTube video

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!

For more info, please contact Stacey at 552185 (at)

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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