As Lawsuits Pile Up, Porn Industry Faces Day Of Reckoning Over Accusations Of Sex Trafficking

As Lawsuits Pile Up, Porn Industry Faces Day Of Reckoning Over Accusations Of Sex Trafficking

It almost goes without saying that the Internet has enabled pornography to flourish. But when pornography is in demand, fueled by pornography tube sites’ lust for profit, there’s a strong likelihood that those in front of the camera did not consent to being there.

Case in point: In January 2020, 22 sex trafficking survivors were awarded $12.7 million after a civil lawsuit against the GirlsDoPorn company was decided in their favor. The young women were groomed by GirlsDoPorn under false pretenses, trapped in hotel rooms, manipulated and threatened into signing contracts and making pornographic videos. They were lied to about how the videos would be distributed. The GirlsDoPorn company uploaded the exploitative videos to Pornhub, which monetized them, profiting from their victimization. Over 40 Girls Do Porn survivors filed a lawsuit against Pornhub for its role in further exploiting them by refusing to remove their coerced videos.

Outrageously, Pornhub continued to host and promote GirlsDoPorn and its material on its platform throughout the plaintiffs’ civil lawsuit and all the way up until federal criminal charges were formally filed against GirlsDoPorn’s operators.

Pornhub posted these illicit videos on its “verified accounts” platform, which the company asserts is “safer,” but this is the extreme opposite of “safe.” Pornhub’s actions show that there has been a merger between illicit sex trafficking and online pornography.

Unfortunately, this is not the only time sex trafficking has occurred on pornography sites.

MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub, has allowed filmed child sexual abuse, rape, sex trafficking, and other non-consensual explicit material on its websites. In fact, there are a growing number of lawsuits that have been filed on behalf of sex trafficking survivors whose abuse has been shown on Pornhub. The New York Times, The New Yorker, and the BBC have also revealed evidence of Pornhub’s criminality.

In one of these lawsuits, two survivors of child sex trafficking are suing Pornhub because videos and images of their sexual abuse were posted on Pornhub and other MindGeek-owned sites.

Plaintiff Jane Doe #1 was just 16 years old when she was drugged and raped by a man in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and this abuse was filmed. The same man entered into an agreement with MindGeek to share profits from views and downloads of her victimization on MindGeek’s websites. MindGeek reviewed, categorized, tagged, and disseminated the images and videos depicting the rape and sexual exploitation of Jane Doe #1. At no time did MindGeek or Pornhub attempt to verify her identity, age, inquire about her status as a victim of sex trafficking, or otherwise protect or warn against her traffickers.

The second plaintiff, Jane Doe #2, was still a minor when a sex trafficker forced her to participate in the creation of sexually explicit videos. These videos of Jane Doe #2’s abuse were uploaded and disseminated through websites owned, operated, and/or controlled by MindGeek. Neither Pornhub, nor any other website owned or operated by MindGeek took any measure to verify Jane Doe #2’s identity or age. As a result, her child sex abuse material was distributed broadly throughout the world on MindGeek’s platforms.

As long as pornography tube sites do not have to ensure that all who are depicted in explicit material have truly consented to participate and are adults, more criminality will happen. There are currently no such regulations for pornography tube sites and thousands of victims are powerless in removing recordings of their abuse while Pornhub and other websites make millions of dollars from their trauma.

Recent research has shown that 1 in 8 (12%) of the video titles on the largest mainstream pornography sites in the U.K. (Pornhub, XVideos, and Xhamster) described activities that constitute sexual violence. Much of the material described likely depicted evidence of real sexual assaults and non-consensual distribution of sexually explicit material.

Pornography websites exploded during the COVID pandemic, including a newer one: OnlyFans.

OnlyFans is set up as a potential “pyramid scheme” incentivizing “creators” to recruit new users – resulting in a flood on social media of false promises of fast cash and fame. Sex buyers and pimps maximize buying and selling people behind the security of a paywall. Yet survivors, whistleblowers, police, and investigative journalists have uncovered child sexual abuse material, sex trafficking, rape videos, and a host of other crimes. Those are several reasons why we named OnlyFans to our 2022 Dirty Dozen List.

Because OnlyFans is so heavily publicized on social media, police have used open-source data from social media to note sex trafficking indicators. A research collaboration project between Human Trafficking Detective Joseph Scaramucci and The Avery Center for Research and Services took this approach, analyzing public Instagram accounts which had OnlyFans links in their bios. Of these accounts, 36% were classified as “likely third-party controlled.” Detective Scaramucci says there are specific indicators that the women in some of the pictures may be victims coerced by sex traffickers even when the pornographic images seem consensual to the casual observer.

The pornography industry is a predatory and exploitative business and dehumanizes those who are used to make it. The industry’s rise is built upon serving the demand for pornography and it will force, coerce, and deceive people to accomplish that goal, leaving a wake of victims in its path.

Many who are in front of the camera did not consent to be there. Those who consume pornography must reconsider their role in fueling this epidemic of child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and other illegal material on pornography sites.

Dawn Hawkins is the CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography. Twitter: @NCOSE

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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