This Friday, Netflix will begin streaming a new show, “Baby”. Based loosely on the account of the “Baby Squillo scandal,” the show portrays a group of teenagers entering into prostitution as a glamorized “coming-of-age” story. Under international and U.S. federal law, anyone engaged in commercial sex who is under 18 years old is by definition a sex trafficking victim. In the real-life scandal that “Baby” is based on, the mother of one of the teenagers was arrested for sex trafficking.
In January, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, along with 55 other survivors of sex trafficking and/or subject matter experts, social service providers, and advocates for the abolition of sexual exploitation sent a letter to Netflix executives to express their deep concern regarding Netflix’s forthcoming Italian drama, “Baby,” which normalizes child sexual abuse and the sex trafficking of minors as “prostitution”.
“Despite being at ground zero of the #MeToo movement, Netflix appears to have gone completely tone-deaf on the realities of sexual exploitation,” said Dawn Hawkins, executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “Despite the outcry from survivors of sex trafficking, subject matter experts, and social service providers, Netflix promotes sex trafficking by insisting on streaming “Baby”. Clearly, Netflix is prioritizing profits over victims of abuse.”
Erik Barmack, VP of International Originals at Netflix, has previously described the new show as “edgy”. “There is absolutely nothing ‘edgy’ about the sexual exploitation of minors,” explained Hawkins. “This show glamorizes sexual abuse and trivializes the experience of countless underage women and men who have suffered through sex trafficking.”