The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is accusing new Netflix series Baby of glamorizing human trafficking.
The eight-episode series, which debuted on the streaming platform Friday, is described as exploring "the unseen lives of Roman high schoolers. Loosely inspired by a true story, the series follows a group of Parioli teenagers as they defy society in their search for identity and independence against the backdrop of forbidden love, family pressures, and shared secrets."
According to the NCOSE, however, Baby portrays "a group of teenagers entering into prostitution as a glamorized 'coming-of-age' story," the organization also noting that in the real-life scandal that Baby is based on, "the mother of one of the teenagers was arrested for sex trafficking."
At the beginning of the year, months before Baby's Netflix debut, fifty-five survivors of sex trafficking joined the NCOSE to send a letter to the streaming platform expressing concern about the show, which they say "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."
When Baby was announced in Janaury, Erik Barmack, VP of International Originals at Netflix, praised the series as being "representative of the new, edgy programming from talented producers that we cherish," a claim that the NCOSE is refuting.
"There is absolutely nothing 'edgy' about the sexual exploitation of minors," Hawkins wrote in the letter. "This show glamorizes sexual abuse and trivializes the experience of countless underage women and men who have suffered through sex trafficking."
Netflix had declined to comment on the allegations, according to USA Today.
Baby is far from the first Netflix original series to be slammed for its portrayal of a controversial topic. Notably, teen drama 13 Reasons Why has continuously come under scrutiny for its graphic depictions and portrayals of a number of topics, including suicide and sexual assault.
The Parents Television Council has repeatedly requested that the streaming giant delay the debut of new episodes, urged the streaming giant to cancel the series, and have frequently sent out "urgent warnings to parents and schools" regarding the series' content.
Netflix has responded to the controversy surrounding 13 Reasons Why by stating that "nobody has to watch it."