Speaking Up for the Most Vulnerable

Kathryn Bolkovac was a police officer in Lincoln, Nebraska who brought attention to an international scandal involving human trafficking and abuse of women. When she and her husband divorced, Kathryn struggled to support her two children.

The United Nations, through its International Police Task Force (IPTF), hired her to go to Bosnia to provide training to local police and work toward restoring human rights. Kathryn was hired through a private contractor, DynCorp. Few of her colleagues were trained properly so Kathryn took a lead position.

What she didn’t expect was the hostility of those whose jobs were to protect the oppressed became the oppressors themselves. She began to see corruption at every level. Investigations of abuse were not being conducted.

She found that sex slavery was everywhere. What was worse was the fact that IPTF employees were often involved. When she reported on the crimes, her reports disappeared. When she persisted in calling attention to the crimes, she started receiving death threats. When she sent an email to U.N. leaders, few responded. The Deputy Commissioner told her that the U.N. and the State Department wanted her to stop her investigations. Four months later, she was fired by DynCorp.

Kathryn took a year to build evidence for a wrongful employment suit against DynCorp. They settled out of court within two days. When a film was made about her experience (The Whistleblower), the U.N. responded by conducting a panel discussion (!!)

Kathryn was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. Unfortunately, she has lost her credentials for policing. She is now an advocate for the regulation of contractors so their employees will no longer have immunity from human trafficking, sex slavery, and related crimes.

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            “We are peacekeepers who came to protect the innocent, but now we prey upon them in the worst ways possible. We may be accused of thinking with our hearts instead of our heads, but we will have our humanity.”– Kathryn Balkovac

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