Duffy opened up earlier this year about her own experience being drugged, raped and held captive

By Brianne Tracy
July 02, 2020 03:20 PM
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Duffy — the Welsh singer who opened up earlier this year about being drugged, raped and held captive — has written an open letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings asking that the streaming service remove the controversial film 365 Days as it "glamorizes the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape."

The erotic drama, which stars Michele Morrone and Anna-Maria Sieklucka, tells the story of a young Polish woman who is imprisoned by a Sicilian mafia boss who gives her one year to fall in love with him. It premiered in Poland in February and was released on Netflix last month.

In her letter, which was obtained by Deadline, Duffy, 36, said her own experience of being "drugged, kidnapped, trafficked and raped" prompted her to speak out about the film.

"Today, I really don’t know what to think, say, or do, other than to reach out and explain to you in this letter how irresponsible it was of Netflix to broadcast the film 365 Days, " she wrote. "I don't want to be in this position to have to write to you, but the virtue of my suffering obliges me to do so, because of a violent experience that I endured of the kind that you have chosen to present as 'adult erotica.' "

"365 Days glamorizes the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape," she continued. "This should not be anyone's idea of entertainment, nor should it be described as such, or be commercialized in this manner. I write these words (ones I cannot believe I am writing in 2020, with so much hope and progress gained in recent years), as an estimated 25 million people are currently trafficked around the world, not to mention the untold amounts of people uncounted. Please take a moment to stop and pause, and think about that number, equivalent to almost half the population of England. And of those trafficked annually, no less than 80% are women and girls, and 50% of them are minors."

Duffy — born Aimee Anne Duffy —  then went on to critique Netflix for providing a "platform for such 'cinema,' that eroticises [sic] kidnapping and distorts sexual violence and trafficking as a 'sexy' movie."

"I just can't imagine how Netflix could overlook how careless, insensitive, and dangerous this is," she wrote. "It has even prompted some young women, recently, to jovially ask Michele Morrone, the lead actor in the film, to kidnap them."

"We all know Netflix would not host material glamorizing pedophilia, racism, homophobia, genocide, or any other crimes against humanity," she added. "The world would rightly rise up and scream. Tragically, victims of trafficking and kidnapping are unseen, and yet in 365 Days their suffering is made into a 'erotic drama', as described by Netflix."

Duffy wrote that Netflix can "right this wrong" by committing "the resources" and "the skills of its talented film-makers" to "producing and broadcasting content that portrays the truth of the harsh and desperate reality of what ‘365 Days’ has sought to turn into a work of casual entertainment."

"I calm myself to explain to you here – when I was trafficked and raped, I was lucky to come away with my life, but far too many have not been so lucky," she wrote. "And now I have to witness these tragedies, and my tragedy, eroticised [sic] and demeaned. Where can one turn? But to have to address you in writing."

Duffy concluded her letter by encouraging Netflix and everyone who has watched 365 Days to learn more about human trafficking ahead of World Day against Trafficking in Persons on July 30. She provided a link to the human trafficking page on the United Nations' Office on Drugs and Crime website and highlighted organizations that fight against human trafficking, including the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Hope for Justice, Polaris Project, Anti-Slavery, Stop the Traffick, Unseen U.K., Not for Sale Campaign, International Justice Mission, A21 and Made for Them.

"If all of you at Netflix take nothing from this open letter but these final words, I will be content," she wrote. "You have not realized how 365 Days has brought great hurt to those who have endured the pains and horrors that this film glamorizes, for entertainment and for dollars. What I and others who know these injustices need is the exact opposite – a narrative of truth, hope, and to be given a voice. When we know better, let us do better, Duffy."

In February, Duffy told fans she had chosen to be out of the spotlight for a decade to recover from being "raped and drugged and held captive." She then shared a powerful first-person account of the experience in April.

"It was my birthday, I was drugged at a restaurant, I was drugged then for four weeks and traveled to a foreign country," she wrote. "I can't remember getting on the plane and came round in the back of a traveling vehicle. I was put into a hotel room and the perpetrator returned and raped me."

Then, the star said she "could have been disposed of by him" and that "he made veiled confessions of wanting to kill" her. She contemplated running away, but feared for her life. "I do not know how I had the strength to endure those days," she wrote.

Duffy said she was ultimately flown back to the U.K. by him, and that he proceeded to drug her in her own home for the next four weeks. "I do not know if he raped me there during that time," she wrote.

She then opened up about the impact the traumatic incident had on her life in the years that followed, recalling how much she wished she could "change my name off public record and disappear to another country." However, throughout her recovery, she realized that was not meant to be how her story ended.

"Rape stripped me of my human rights, to experience a life with autonomy from fear," she wrote. "It has already stolen one-third of my life. Deep down I do know it would have been a shame and done such an immense disservice to my existence to just delete myself and forget what I had experienced in music publicly."

Along with sharing her past, Duffy said she was "no longer ashamed" about this chapter of her life.

"I am sharing this because we are living in a hurting world and I am no longer ashamed that something deeply hurt me, anymore," she said. "I believe that if you speak from the heart within you, the heart within others will answer. As dark as my story is, I do speak from my heart, for my life, and for the life of others, whom have suffered the same."

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to online.rainn.org.