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The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman's Fight for Justice

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Overview

When Nebraska police officer and divorced mother of three Kathryn Bolkovac saw a recruiting announcement for private military contractor DynCorp International, she applied and was hired. Good money, world travel, and the chance to help rebuild a war-torn country sounded like the perfect job. Bolkovac was shipped out to Bosnia, where DynCorp had been contracted to support the UN peacekeeping mission. She was assigned as a human rights investigator, heading the gender affairs unit. The lack of proper training ...

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The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman's Fight for Justice

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Overview

When Nebraska police officer and divorced mother of three Kathryn Bolkovac saw a recruiting announcement for private military contractor DynCorp International, she applied and was hired. Good money, world travel, and the chance to help rebuild a war-torn country sounded like the perfect job. Bolkovac was shipped out to Bosnia, where DynCorp had been contracted to support the UN peacekeeping mission. She was assigned as a human rights investigator, heading the gender affairs unit. The lack of proper training provided sounded the first alarm bell, but once she arrived in Sarajevo, she found out that things were a lot worse. At great risk to her personal safety, she began to unravel the ugly truth about officers involved in human trafficking and forced prostitution and their connections to private mercenary contractors, the UN, and the U.S. State Department. After bringing this evidence to light, Bolkovac was demoted, felt threatened with bodily harm, was fired, and ultimately forced to flee the country under cover of darkness—bringing the incriminating documents with her. Thanks to the evidence she collected, she won a lawsuit against DynCorp, finally exposing them for what they had done. This is her story and the story of the women she helped achieve justice for.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bolkovac, a former Nebraska police officer with a specialty in forensic science,was hoping to affect change inwar-devastated Bosniawhen she signed on as an international police monitor at the peak of the Balkan conflict. While in Sarajevo, the divorced mother of three collected evidence, victim statements concerning the horrific situations, brutal rapes, andmurders of innocent women and children she encountered. But as an employee for DynCorp, a leading military contractor in world security, she seldom saw justice done. After being promoted by the U.N. to oversee cases of domestic abuses, sexual assault, and human trafficking, Bolkovac uncovers a vast network of women and underage girls sold to brothels near military bases, with a client list of soldiers, police, and officials. When sheimplicatesthe U.N. in Bosnia for covering up for its officials selling women in prostitution, she is fired--allegedly for falsifying a time sheet, but the damageis done and her evidence is presented at a tribunal. Overall, Bolkovac's story, with the help of journalist Lynn, bristles withdisturbing details and heartfelt compassion. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews

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-DollarBoys' Clubof 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.

From the Publisher
“Kathy is a remarkable woman who had the courage to tell the truth and stand up for the victims of sex trafficking, putting her own life on the line. I was deeply moved by her story and hope her voice will be heard, raising awareness about the tragic consequences of war.”—Rachel Weisz

“Most galling is the sad truth that DynCorp answered to no law, nor to the military, the U.S., or the Bosnians…Infuriating and heartbreaking.”—Booklist

“Bristles with disturbing details and heartfelt compassion.”—Publishers Weekly

“Bolkovac and co-author Lynn successfully evoke the paranoid atmosphere of a suspense film…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.”—Kirkus

“Women and girls trafficked into Bosnia and Herzegovina's brothels endured debt bondage, rape, and beatings.  International police and peacekeeping forces should have protected these victims.  Instead, some committed trafficking crimes.  Kathy Bolkovac bravely blew the whistle on them.  She paid a high price in her career, but had the integrity to take a stand against grave human rights abuses.”— Janet Walsh, Deputy Director, Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch

"Rape and forced prostitution perpetrated on a pervasive, ongoing scale by police, military, and other groups protected by regional and even national governments continue to occur into the 21st century.   Regrettably, and quite amazingly, these violent and degrading events do not receive the attention and universal condemnation that a civilized society should demand.   Kathryn Bolkovac and Cari Lynn have demonstrated great personal courage and admirable moral strength in addressing such egregious conduct in The Whistleblower.   A highly disturbing and fascinating expose' based upon frightening real life experiences."—Dr. Cyril Wecht, nationally acclaimed forensic pathologist and author of Mortal Evidence

“A true story of suspense by a former Nebraska police officer who went to work for a private contractor in Bosnia. There she discovered human-rights violations, including a network of sex trafficking, and fought to bring down its perpetrators, no matter who they were. It’s a tale of cover-ups, scapegoats, greed and indifference. And learning that the abuses continued will make readers crazy.”—Omaha World-Herald

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230108028
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/4/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 934,086
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathryn Bolkovac is a former police investigator from Nebraska who served as an International Police Task Force human rights investigator in Bosnia. She cooperated with Human Rights Watch to expose the misconduct and human rights abuses committed against young girls, forced into prostitution and used as sex slaves by U.S. military contractors such as DynCorp and other UN-related police and international organizations. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

 

Cari Lynn is the author of three books of narrative nonfiction, including Leg the Spread: A Woman’s Adventures Inside the Trillion-Dollar Boys Club of Commodities Trading. Lynn has written for numerous magazines and newspapers including O, Health, Good Housekeeping, and the Chicago Tribune. She lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from The Whistleblower:

I was a police investigator certified in forensic science and contracted to work on human rights abuses. But my superiors continuously tried to bury my cases.  When I was promoted to UN Headquarters to oversee all cases of domestic abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking throughout Bosnia, my case files started disappearing on a routine basis from the Internal Affairs office.  Files upon files of evidence we human rights officers, and even local Bosnian police, had collected never saw the light of day: victim statements, license plate numbers, identifying badges, names, tattoos, and even instant photographs.  All of it gone. Except, of course, for the copies I had in my Eddie Bauer duffle bag.                                                         —from the Prologue

 

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Table of Contents

Author's Note and Acknowledgments vi

Map viii

Prologue (April 2001) 1

1 Running from Something (November 1998-June 1999) 11

2 Stop the Threat (The Early Years-June 1999) 17

3 Cops for Hire (April-June 1999) 25

4 Sarajevo (June 1999) 33

5 "Accidents" Happen (June-September 1999) 43

6 Zenica (October-December 1999) 63

7 At the Florida (January-April 2000) 75

8 The Gender Desk (April-July 2000) 89

9 No Incidents (July-August 2000) 103

10 Education of a Lifetime (August-September 2000) 113

11 Ladies of the Evening (October 2000) 121

12 "Thinking with Our Hearts" (October 2000) 129

13 Backlash (November 2000) 137

14 The Prijedor Raids (November-December 2000) 145

15 Distaste (December 2000-March 2001) 151

16 Time Sheets (April 2001) 159

17 Going to the Press (April 2001) 171

18 The Khaki Duffel Bag (April 2001-April 2002) 179

19 Tribunal (April 22-23, 2002) 197

20 Verdict (June 2002-May 2003) 207

21 Zero Tolerance (May 2003-2010) 219

Notes 231

Index 235

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2011

    Couldn't put it down!! Very compelling!!

    What an eye opener!! I had no idea in this day and age these kinds of crimes were happening. I feel bad for the kids and Kathryn. What a waste of tax dollars! I hope the names of the perpetrators was not changed, they need to be exposed. Money, power, and opportunity. Can't wait for the movie..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2011

    A must read!!

    Shockingly sad this is happening. The story takes you right into the life of a brave woman who risked everything to help children. The heavy hearted law woman leaves her own children in the US to help a war torn region gain civil order. The behavior of American contracted employees is disturbing and criminal. The courage and heart that the author has should have been rewarded not punished. This book is a real eye opener. If your interested at all in sex crimes, corrupt law enforcement or US tax dollars being wasted, you will not be able to put this book down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2011

    Great book!

    It was a quick and very informative read that kept my attention all the way through. I think that all people should read this book to realize what happens when there is no checks and balances. The lengths that this woman went to is inspirational. It's truly a What Would You Do...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2011

    Story causes outrage; unimaginative writing dulls it

    The corruption (that we taxpayers end up subsidizing) is heinous on many fronts. Unfortunately, I found myself feeling disengaged from the story because of the writing style used. I just could not muster up the emotion that should have been stimulated by the horrors of human trafficking, corruption, death threats, etc. The story is important and deserves to be shouted out in every news front possible. The writing style just didn't spark any sense of energy that would encourage me to "fight" for the issue. Too bad . . .

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    Posted January 28, 2012

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    Posted January 13, 2012

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    Posted January 10, 2011

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    Posted September 17, 2013

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