The Whistleblower – a Tale of Trafficking: Corruption, Cruelty and Crime

The Whistleblower (2010) is a powerful story charting the role of a peacekeeper, played by Rachel Weisz, in post war Bosnia. The film is apparently inspired by true events, which reveal the darkest depths of politicking as a country, Bosnia, is re built following years of war.

Weisz plays a Nebraskan police officer who is offered the opportunity to relocate to Bosnia for six months in order to help train the local police force.

Typically bright eyed and bushy tailed Katy (Weisz) arrives in Bosnia with the expectation of rebuilding civil society. But with astonishing speed she uncovers the reality; a world of corruption, cover ups and multi million pound  government contracts, neatly sewn up in a multinational diplomatic farce.

The true horror though, is that she uncovers a sex trafficking racket. The haunting scenes of girls being bought and sold for sex, abused in the most abhorrent of ways is extremely harrowing. Worse still she finds many of her colleagues are behind the ring of exploitation, but they enjoy diplomatic  immunity. And so her attempts to alert those at the top are ignored.

Perhaps what is so haunting about this film is that it’s based on true events, indeed the actress herself is reported to have spent time with the real Kathryn Bolkovac to help her performance.

Although the film was released over a year ago, I have only just managed to catch up with it. I was sceptical to be honest for all sorts of reasons, i.e. would it seek to glamorise prostitution? Would it deal with this serious issue merely in a light hearted way? Would I feel frustrated that it didn’t adequately convey the incredibly frightening experience the young girls were forced to endure?

Well in truth, it’s about as far from Hollywood as you can imagine. It paints a frightening picture and provides a distressing account of the life the girls are forced to endure, it explores their inability to trust even those who they should have been able to reasonably expect would protect them and we see how vulnerable they are.

But it also illustrates how powerful political forces can be and how easy it is to hide corruption. Weisz’s character’s frustration is compounded when she is not only ignored by her superiors but forcibly removed from continuing her investigation.

It reminds us that trafficking is a hidden crime, supported by layers of people, sometimes several rackets who may have conflicting reasons to offer support. It should serve as a reminder that women across the world are exploited, trafficked, humiliated and abused and the international community has a duty to do all it can to protect victims and do all it can to stop it.

But as the film illustrates only too well, money talks and a prestigious multi million contract to help rebuild a war torn country isn’t going to help the vulnerable victims of this vicious crime.

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