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Netflix has been indicted by a grand jury in Texas after refusing to take down the controversial French film Cuties - meaning the jury found 'probable cause' a felony has been committed and the streamer now faces criminal charges over the film.
The film, directed by French-Senegalese filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré, is accused of 'promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child'.
However, the film's director and creator claims the story is at least in part inspired by her own experiences and is a tale that warns against the sexualisation of children.
Netflix has stood by the film in the face of the criticism, led by former US Presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz.
The film tells the story of Amy, an 11-year-old Muslim girl who defies her parents and joins a dance troupe that learns provocative dances in an attempt to win a competition.
The filmmaker claims that the moral of the story is that children must be protected, and uses her own experiences to get that message across, but - given the 23 September indictment - not everyone agrees.
Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin said in a press release following the indictment: "The legislators of this state believe promoting certain lewd material of children has destructive consequences.
"If such material is distributed on a grand scale, isn't the need to prosecute more, not less? A grand jury in Tyler County found probably cause for this felony, and my job is to uphold the laws of this state and see that justice is done."
In the time since the film was released on 9 September, the streaming platform has come in for quite a bit of stick, culminating in this legal action from the Texas grand jury, accusing the California-based company of broadcasting lewd material within their state.
In a statement to NBC News, Netflix argued that Cuties 'is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children' and added: "The charge is without merit and we stand by the film."
Doucouré has previously defended the film, saying: "It's because I saw so many things and so many issues around me lived by young girls, that I decided to make this film and sound an alarm and say we need to protect our children."
However, Texas senator Ted Cruz sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr arguing that the film 'sexualizes young girls, through dance scenes simulating sexual activities, including one scene exposing a minor's chest.'
Later, on social media, he wrote: "Following Netflix's disturbing promotion of 'Cuties,' I sent a letter calling on the DOJ to investigate whether Netflix, its executives, or the filmmakers violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography."
Democrat Tulsi Gabbard also called out the film, writing: "Netflix child porn Cuties will certainly whet the appetite of pedophiles & help fuel the child sex trafficking trade. 1 in 4 victims of trafficking are children. It happened to my friend's 13 year old daughter. Netflix, you are now complicit. #CancelNetflix"
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