Welsh singer Duffy has sent an open letter to Netflix publicly criticising their “irresponsible” release of Polish film 365 Days, which “glamorises the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping, and rape.”
Earlier this year, Duffy revealed that she had been drugged, abducted, raped, and held hostage over a four week period around a decade ago.
365 Days, which has received terrible reviews but has been in Netflix’s top 10 ever since it was released last month, revolves around a Polish woman being imprisoned and abused by a Sicilian man for an entire year, as he wants her to fall in love with him.
It has proven to be such a huge success that a sequel was reportedly in the works. However the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed its development.
Duffy addressed her letter to Netflix’s Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings, which you can read in its entirety, via Deadline, below:
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.”