The film tip: The Whistleblower – Dysfunctional diplomacy

The Whistleblower is a film about an American police officer on foreign service for the UN in post-war Bosnia. The film is based on the story of Kahtryn Bolkovac, who administered some justice for trafficking victims she had come in contact with during her time in Bosnia. She revealed the illegal operations in Bosnia run by the American-based security corporation DynCorp.

The Whistleblower is a story of how everything can be bought if you have the money and gives a frightening insight on how people with power sometimes can’t resist abusing it in the most abhorrent ways.

Kathryn works alongside the local police forces as well as the US forces stationed there to keep peace in the country. It doesn’t take long for her to discover that the cooperation between the US forces and the Bosnian police goes further than the peacekeeping.
One night, a wounded young Ukrainian girl is found in the forest. This is where the story of Kathryn’s efforts began. It only became known later when she was fired from her foreign service.

The young Ukrainian girl, Raya is definitely not the only girl who is trying to run away from her job as a “waitress” at one of the many bars which nightly are visited by inebriated American soldiers. She is definitely not the only one in her homeland who have been offered a paying job abroad but instead been transported to the lawless Balkan and forced into prostitution by human traffickers.

What’s scary in the story is that human traffickers are not who we expect them to be; no, they are everything from diplomats in the UN to American soldiers and Bosnian police officers. Kathryn discovers that without the help of her Western colleagues, it wouldn’t have been possible to bring all these girls to the country and keep them as sex slaves at the bars. Without her Western colleagues’ involvement, there would be no demand for these girls.
So corruption is only the first name.

While the scandal was being revealed, DynCorp had a contract with the UN worth 15 million dollars, for recruiting and sending armed forces to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Many of those involved had to quit their mission in Bosnia when their involvement in the human-trafficking was discovered. However, no one was tried for the crimes they committed since those serving abroad were protected by diplomatic immunity.
The selling and abusing of young girls in Bosnia isn’t the only DynCorp scandal. In 2009, their forces were accused of buying sex from prostituted boys in Afghanistan where they were on an assignment to train police forces in peacekeeping.

The Whistleblower isn’t just a well made film with fantastic acting from Rachel Weisz. The Whistleblower feels necessary and vital; especially for the American audience which sometimes seem to unjustly glorify the heroic foreign-missions in war-torn places.

The film evokes anger and disgust;
anger because it’s not fiction, and disgust because it’s so offensive to see what people with power can do to those who are helpless, when their task should be the opposite.
I am very fascinated by Kathryn’s bravery and fearlessness of getting herself in trouble. I have much sympathy for the Bosnian police officer who dared to stand against his colleagues at Kathryn’s side to release the girls.

But what about Raya, the young Ukrainian girl whose mother desperately waits for her in Kiev?
Raya suffers the most horrible abuse by men who actually are there to protect her. She is so terrified and confined to her own invisible prison that she chooses not to escape again and dies .
She isn’t just one of all the victims of human trafficking or a victim of war. No, Raya is a victim of the rich and powerful Western world’s supremacy over the third world.

Matilda Reiderstedt for RealStars

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