The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) has released a statement condemning Netflix‘s new Italian drama series Baby for promoting sex trafficking. The show centers around two teenage girls from a wealthy part of Rome who are drawn into the city’s underworld after becoming fed up with their family and friends.
According to the NCOSE, Baby 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.”
Fifty-five survivors of sex trafficking joined the NCOSE at the beginning of the year to send a letter to Netflix expressing concern about the show. The society says the series also “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.”
Baby was called “edgy” by Erik Barmack, VP of International Originals at Netflix, but Hawkins said, “There is absolutely nothing edgy about the sexual exploitation of minors. This show glamorizes sexual abuse and trivializes the experience of countless underage women and men who have suffered through sex trafficking.”
Netflix has been under scrutiny a lot over the last several months. The streaming giant’s original series Insatiable was criticized for promoting fat shaming, while the Argentinian film Desire was accused of featuring a scene that could be construed as child pornography.
Baby is available to stream on Netflix starting November 30.