THE WHISTLEBLOWER by Kathryn Bolkovac


Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman's Fight for Justice
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An American policewoman uncovers evil in the aftermath of the Bosnian war and is punished for her efforts.

Bolkovac, a veteran of the Lincoln, Neb., police force, was looking for a new challenge, a higher salary and a chance to escape from a bitter divorce. So she signed up with private security company DynCorp to join the peace-keeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina after a decade of ethnic violence and civil war. DynCorp was contracted by the U.S. government to put together an American contingent of hired guns to complement the U.N.-directed forces of active police officers lent by other countries with a mandate to bring back order to a lawless land. However, Bolkovac soon discovered that DynCorp officials, when not involved in lawlessness themselves, were intent on covering up their employees’ patronage of a human-trafficking operation that had taken root in Bosnia. Eastern European girls as young as 12 were lured to the former Yugoslavia for work. Once there, their passports were confiscated, they were plied with heroin and indentured as sex workers with no country. As Bolkovac attempted to educate the local police forces about the criminality of sex slavery and violence against women, she found that her American colleagues—especially her superiors—were often as uneducable as the locals. Indeed, her attempt to shame the Americans via an e-mail explaining the difference between an underage sex slave and a willing prostitute earned her the thanks usually afforded a whistleblower—she was fired on a minor technicality. Though much of the action involves bureaucratic infighting, Bolkovac and co-author Lynn (Leg the Spread: A Woman’s Adventures Inside the Trillion-Dollar Boys’ Club of Commodities Trading, 2004, etc.) successfully evoke the paranoid atmosphere of a suspense film; in fact, the film version, starring Rachel Weisz, is set for release in 2010. By spotlighting Bolkovac’s travails, the narrative loses some focus on the plight of trafficked girls and the crimes still being perpetrated by private contractors operating on behalf of the U.S. government in war zones around the world. However, the authors shine a light on a neglected area of widespread human suffering.

Along with the film adaptation, this book will hopefully draw attention to an underreported tragedy.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-230-10802-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2010


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