Interview with Kathryn Bolkovac, author of "The Whistleblower"
Kathryn Bolkovac talks about sex trafficking, military contractors, and her book "The Whistleblower."
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That means nothing, because the people who are signing the papers and taking the courses don’t understand what this is really about, and there’s no follow-up or accountability.Skip to next paragraph
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Is it that military contractors need to hire better people or do more training or both?
Both, definitely both.
On a global level, are we doing better at protecting women from violence and exploitation in war zones?
I think [the problem] is being taken more seriously at the theoretical level. But there’s still a lot of work that has to be done on the ground.
In Europe, where I now live, there are a lot of public-service announcements and commercials being sponsored by the UN and others and there’s backing from Hollywood. But for me, that’s still just the public-relations part of it. And I’m optimistic, but I don’t see a lot of training or development going on where they’re actually developing courses for these people who are being hired by contractors and sent abroad to represent the US. They’re basically just sending people over to these missions with no training as to what the local laws are, no training on international law, no training on the cultural differences they’re going to be encountering. For me, that’s still the main issue.
‘The Whistleblower’ is being released this summer as a movie starring Rachel Weisz. What’s it like being portrayed by a movie star?
Rachel Weisz is a petite, beautiful young woman and I’m kind of a 5-foot-10 big-boned cop. But it was great. She was so willing to want to be and do things like I would have done them. My husband and I went to Bucharest [Romania] last November  when the filming started and spent a week on set. Rachel would stop the filming if she thought something wasn’t said right or done right and come to me and say, “Kathy, how would you do this? How would you say that?”
Will the book and the movie change your life? Will it help your cause?
I’m still trying to figure out what my cause is. I’m pretty sure I was sent to this mission for a purpose. And it was to whistle-blow. I think there’s been a lot of misconception about me being this big human rights advocate fighting to abolish human trafficking and all these women’s issues. I do stand for that, and I do fight for that, and that’s what I want. But a lot of people are missing my main issue, which is the unfair employer practices and the corruption of DynCorp and these contractors who are hiring people to go overseas. I think my cause is to continue to work toward better hiring and recruitment practices, to raise the level of the people who we’re sending into these missions so we can prevent the other end – the human trafficking, the prostitution, the gunrunning, the drug trafficking, and whatever else is going in these missions all around the world and get some good publicity coming out of it instead of just these bad instances.
And you know, I realize that there are 90 percent of the people in the mission doing a really good job, but it’s those 10 percent who are ruining it for everyone. And that’s what I’d really like to see change.
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.