Duffy, the Welsh singer-songwriter who earlier this year went public with a harrowing story about being kidnapped and raped, has publicly called out Netflix for showing Polish feature film 365 Days, which she says “glamorizes the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape”.
The movie, which has been widely panned but sits at No.5 in the streamer’s UK top 10 today, is billed as an erotic drama and tells the story of a young Polish woman who is imprisoned by a Sicilian gangster who gives her one year to fall in love with him.
In Duffy’s open letter, which is addressed to Netflix head honcho Reed Hastings, she called the service’s decision to show the movie “irresponsible”. You can read it in full below.
365 Days was a hit at the Polish box office earlier this year, grossing $9M, and it also received a limited run in the UK, where there is a strong Polish diaspora. It debuted on Netflix around the world last month and has been entering top 10s in numerous territories. A sequel was supposedly in the works but was delayed by the coronavirus.
Last week, a petition was launched on change.org calling for Netflix to remove the film, saying it was glorifying human trafficking and Stockholm Syndrome, attracting north of 3,500 signatures.
Back in February, Duffy revealed in an Instagram post that she has been drugged, kidnapped, held captive and raped over a period of four weeks a number of years ago, saying the harrowing experience had made her retreat from the limelight.
Here’s the singer’s letter.
Recently I wrote publicly about an ordeal I was subject to. I was drugged, kidnapped, trafficked and raped. I released a statement of my personal account, which you may find online in further detail on http://www.duffywords.com.
Today, I really don’t know what to think, say, or do, other than to reach out and explain to you in this letter how irresponsible it was of Netflix to broadcast the film ‘365 Days’. I don’t want to be in this position to have to write to you, but the virtue of my suffering obliges me to do so, because of a violent experience that I endured of the kind that you have chosen to present as ‘adult erotica’.
‘365 Days’ glamorizes the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape. This should not be anyone’s idea of entertainment, nor should it be described as such, or be commercialized in this manner.
I write these words (ones I cannot believe I am writing in 2020, with so much hope and progress gained in recent years), as an estimated 25 million people are currently trafficked around the world, not to mention the untold amounts of people uncounted. Please take a moment to stop and pause, and think about that number, equivalent to almost half the population of England. And of those trafficked annually, no less than 80% are women and girls, and 50% of them are minors.
It grieves me that Netflix provides a platform for such ‘cinema’, that eroticises kidnapping and distorts sexual violence and trafficking as a “sexy” movie. I just can’t imagine how Netflix could overlook how careless, insensitive, and dangerous this is. It has even prompted some young women, recently, to jovially ask Michele Morrone, the lead actor in the film, to kidnap them.
We all know Netflix would not host material glamorizing pedophilia, racism, homophobia, genocide, or any other crimes against humanity. The world would rightly rise up and scream. Tragically, victims of trafficking and kidnapping are unseen, and yet in ‘365 Days’ their suffering is made into a “erotic drama”, as described by Netflix.
And so, I am compelled to speak on their behalf, and to ask you to right this wrong; to commit the resources of Netflix, and the skills of its talented film-makers, to producing and broadcasting content that portrays the truth of the harsh and desperate reality of what ‘365 Days’ has sought to turn into a work of casual entertainment.
I calm myself to explain to you here – when I was trafficked and raped, I was lucky to come away with my life, but far too many have not been so lucky. And now I have to witness these tragedies, and my tragedy, eroticised and demeaned. Where can one turn? But to have to address you in writing.
To anyone who may exclaim ‘it is just a movie’, it is not ‘just’, when it has great influence to distort a subject which is widely undiscussed, such as sex trafficking and kidnapping, by making the subject erotic.
And because ‘365 Days’ has proved enormously popular, I also address this letter to viewers directly. I encourage the millions who have enjoyed the movie to reflect on the reality of kidnapping and trafficking, of force and sexual exploitation, and of an experience that is the polar opposite of the glossy fantasy depicted in ‘365 Days’.
As we approach World day against trafficking in persons on 30th July, I encourage Netflix and everyone who has watched ‘365 Days’ to learn more about human trafficking by visiting https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/what-is-human-trafficking.html and to pledge to make a difference to organizations such as: catwinternational.org, hopeforjustice.org, polarisproject.org, antislavery.org, stopthetraffik.org, unseenuk.org, notforsalecampaign.org, ijm.org, a21.org and madeforthem.org.
If all of you at Netflix take nothing from this open letter but these final words, I will be content. You have not realized how ‘365 Days’ has brought great hurt to those who have endured the pains and horrors that this film glamorizes, for entertainment and for dollars. What I and others who know these injustices need is the exact opposite – a narrative of truth, hope, and to be given a voice.
When we know better, let us do better, Duffy.