Singer Duffy has penned an open letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings asking him to remove the controversial film 365 Days from the platform, saying it "glamorizes the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape."
The film which came onto Netflix last month, tells the story of a young Polish woman who is imprisoned by a member of the Sicilian mafia who kidnaps her and gives her a 365 days to fall in love with him. The film quickly became a topic of controversy, with some accusing it of perpetuating rape culture and glorifying sex trafficking, Stockholm syndrome and abusive behaviour, meanwhile a Canadian petition to remove the film from Netflix has reached almost 40,000 signatures.
In February of this year singer Duffy shared an Instagram post with followers revealing that she had disappeared from the public eye as a result of an incident years ago in which she was drugged, raped and kidnapped over a period of four weeks. She has since written a lengthy blog post giving further details of the attack saying she wants to "help others who have suffered the same."
Now she has now written a detailed open letter to Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings urging him to remove the film from the platform. In the letter she also addresses viewers who watched and 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’."
Here is the letter in full as it appeared in Deadline:
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."
We have reached out to Netflix for comment.
If you are in need of advice, information or support relating to sexual assault visit Rape Crisis England and Wales or call (freephone) 0808 802 9999.
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