Netflix’s New Show ‘Baby’ Is Facing Backlash For Its Disturbing Origin Story

Baby is the next Netflix installment of sexy-foreign-teen-drama TV shows. Élite started the trend and Baby is here to follow it up. The new show followed two Italian teenage girls who live in Rome and attend a posh high school. The girls, Chiara (Benedetta Porcaroli) and Ludovica (Alice Pagani), decide to become prostituted so they can make easy money and live lavishly.

The show is based on the true story dubbed Baby Squillo a.k.a Baby Prostitute. The show has received criticism from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) for glamorizing underage prostitution. The center claims that Baby “normalizes child sexual abuse and the sex trafficking of minors as ‘prostitution.'”

The real-life events of Baby occurred in 2013. A 14-year-old and a 15-year-old from Rome were found at the center of an underage prostitution ring. Because they were minors the girls were given fake names during the legal proceeding. Angela is the older girl and Agnese is the younger girl.

In Baby, Chiara represents Angela who is the daughter of two wealthy Romans. Ludovica represents Agnese who is younger and was raised by a single mother.

In the real-life events, Angela and Agnese fell into prostitution by searching “easy money” on Google. “I wanted a lot of money and I didn’t want to miss out on having on anything,” Angela told prosecutors according to the Daily Beast.

Their search led them to Mirko Ieni and army official Nunzio Pizzacalla who became the girls’ pimps. Ieni and Pizzacalla bought the girls their own two-bedroom apartment so they could meet their clients after school. Prosecutor Maria Monteleone said the girls were making 500-600 euros a day.

Both girls’ mothers played a part in the prostitution scandal. Agnese’s single mother encouraged her daughter to keep selling herself for money. She used her profits to help pay for bills. The police tapped their phones while investigating the scandal and heard a disturbing phone call between the mother and daughter.

In a recorded phone call, Agnese tells her mom she can’t “work” because she has to do school work and study. Her mother scolded her for not working. She responded, “What are we going to do then? I’m short [of money] and we need to recuperate the funds.” She continued to scold and berate her daughter for not working and choosing school work over sex work.

Angela’s mother played a drastically different role in the case. She called the police when she was concerned and confused about her daughter’s income. Thanks to her, the police discovered the underage prostitution ring and shut it down.

Agnese’s mom was sentenced to six years in prison and had her parental rights taken away.

Agnese’s mom wasn’t the only person who suffered consequences. Ieni was sentenced to 10 years of prison and Pizzacalla got seven years. The police also secured a list of 50 clients of Angela’s and Agnese’s. One of the clients was police office Mauro Floriani who was married to Italian senator Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of dictator Benito Mussolini. As of June 2015, only 11 clients received one-year sentences.

Prosecutor Monteleone says the girls were addicted to easy money. Both girls are in protective custody and receiving counseling. According to the Daily Beast, Angela is being cooperative with the police while Agnese is “suffering from severe psychological trauma.”

NCOSE is claiming Baby promotes sex trafficking. Erik Barmack, VP of International Originals at Netflix, called the show “edgy.” In response, Dawn Hawkins, executive director of NCOSE says, “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.”

Will you be streaming Baby?



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