by: Alexia Dincă
Loverboy is a Romanian drama, directed by Cătălin Mitulescu, that tells the story of a young man who seduces women into joining a prostitution ring. This movie hopes to bring to light one of society’s most daunting problems: human trafficking. The action takes place in the seaside city of Constanța. Luca, a man with an uncertain family background, is introduced as the main character. Young and non-communicative, he lives in a lorry on the edge of a road, near a restaurant-bar run by Mrs. Savu ("a surrogate mother", as characterized by Andrei Gorzo). He has a paralysed grandfather, whom he visits occasionally, but doesn’t care much for. He is also the “recruiter” in a trafficking network, where he operates by seducing young girls and manipulating them into joining the network, convincing them that it’s the only way to help him with his financial problems. When the movie opens, Luca is taken to a police station and questioned about a complaint filed against him by a girl he had brought to Italy to work in a nightclub. Immediately we learn one of his manipulation tactics: before the lineup, Luca hits himself so as to appear like he’d been a victim of police brutality. When the victim is asked to identify him, she thinks he’d been hurt as a result of her complaint and denies his involvement. After the ordeal, higher-ups in the network ask Luca if he “wants to see her gone.” He says yes and soon after he’s called back in for questioning, and to identify her body. With one of the recruited girls gone, Luca quickly moves onto finding his next victim and meets Veli, the daughter of a shepherd named Toader. The two begin to meet regularly and grow very close, when he first meets her family, however, her father and brother reject Luca and he leaves. As a result, Veli runs away from home to live with Luca, to whom she had lost her virginity. The two appear happy to Veli, who has now become emotion attached to the boy, and she begins making plans for their future together. Veli's father attempts to bring her back home, even using force when she refuses, but fails nonetheless and she ends up distancing herself completely from her family. Luca successfully manages to bring Veli even closer, going as far as to throw himself off a small hill with his motorcycle in order to stage an accident and severe injuries; but when he returns home, he rejects Veli when she takes care of his wounds. She asks how he was injured and he rips off his bandages in a theatrical gesture, arguing that if she knew the problems he was dealing with she would leave. Veli insists and he eventually “confesses” that he owns a lot of money, but repeatedly tells her she can’t help him with any of it. She insists that she helps him and Luca eventually suggests the “only solution:” she must prostitute herself to earn them both money. Veli is open to the proposal, believing it to be the only way for them to have a future together, so she goes through with it. At the end of the movie, Luca goes to the inn where Veli now meets clients to receive his fee from a friend who had slept with her. Although Veli is “getting ready” in a room upstairs, Luca walks up to the door but does not enter, hesitating before turning away and leaving the inn. Women and children from Romania are often victims of forced prostitution particularly in Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. They are also trafficked within their own country for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour, including forced begging and petty theft. The Romanian Government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for eliminating trafficking. More specifically, the government does not separate labor trafficking law enforcement statistics from sex trafficking, consequently being unable to report the accurate number of investigations, prosecutions, and convictions. Efforts to raise awareness about the issue during the reporting period included a public campaign preventing sex trafficking, “The Two-Faced Man”. This campaign reached an estimated audience of 620,000 and ran for three months, consisting of advertisements for television and radio, as well as posters displayed on public transportation. The government also conducted an awareness campaign targeted at approximately 3000 school children and 530 teachers.