Netflix stands by film 365 Days accused of glorifying sex trafficking

A computer screen and mobile phone display the logo for streaming giant Netflix. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) - Netflix said on Friday (July 3) it will continue to stream the Polish film 365 Days amid calls for its withdrawal including by British singer Duffy who said it glamorised "the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape".

Welsh singer-songwriter Aimee Duffy, known as Duffy, released an open letter on Thursday to Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings, raising her concerns about the film that is based on a bestselling Polish book trilogy by Blanka Lipinska.

Described as an "erotic drama", the film follows a woman, played by Polish actress Anna-Maria Sieklucka, who imprisoned by a Sicilian mafia boss, played by Italian actor Michele Morrone, who gives his hostage a year to fall in love with him.

"It grieves me that Netflix provides a platform for such 'cinema', that eroticises kidnapping and distorts sexual violence and trafficking as a 'sexy' movie," wrote Duffy, who this year published her own account of being captured and raped.

"Tragically, victims of trafficking and kidnapping are unseen, and yet in 365 Days their suffering is made into an 'erotic drama', as described by Netflix."

Her letter, published by entertainment news website Deadline, followed a petition being set up on calling for the movie to be removed from Netflix for glorifying sex trafficking and facilitating sexual aggression towards women.

By late on Friday, the petition had about 6,000 signatures.

A spokesman for Netflix did not have a comment about the criticism surrounding 365 Days, which debuted on the service last month to strong viewing numbers, but pointed out the film carried high ratings for violence, sex, nudity and violence.


He also pointed out this was a Polish film released theatrically in several countries in February 2020 and Netflix had licensed the film and was not involved in the production.

"We believe strongly in giving our members around the world more choice and control over their Netflix viewing experience," the spokesman said in emailed comments.

"Members can choose what they do and do not want to watch by setting maturity filters at a profile level and removing specific titles to protect from content they feel is too mature."

Lead actor, Morrone, could not be reached for comment and Duffy's representatives did not respond to emails for comment.

Duffy, 36, re-emerged earlier this year after almost a decade out of the spotlight with a personal account on how she had been drugged and kidnapped from her home and held captive.

In later details, she said she had been drugged in her own home for four weeks and taken to a foreign country.

"I was lucky to come away with my life, but far too many have not been so lucky," she wrote. "And now I have to witness these tragedies, and my tragedy, eroticised and demeaned."

Duffy called on Netflix and viewers of the film to "learn more about human trafficking and to pledge to make a difference" ahead of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30.

The United Nation's International Labour Organisation (ILO)and Australia-based Walk Free Foundation estimate 40.3 million people are trapped in modern slavery which includes about 4.8 million victims of sex trafficking, mainly women and girls.

Sex trafficking is estimated by campaign group Equality Now to be a US$99 billion (S$138 billion) a year industry.

"Please take a moment to stop and pause, and think about that number," wrote Duffy, who had a No. 1 hit with Mercy.

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