More than 207,000 sign petition to shutter porn website after trafficking violations

More than 207,000 sign petition to shutter porn website after trafficking violations

Credit: Unsplash.
Credit: Unsplash.

.- Underage pornography and trafficking videos have been found on the online pornography platform PornHub.

By Feb. 21, a petition on change.org calling on the site to be shut down and its executive held accountable for aiding trafficking had more than 207,000 signatures.

The petition points to several instances of child rape pornography found on PornHub in the past year.

Laila Mickelwait, Exodus Cry's Director of Abolition and the author of the petition, said there may be more instances of this illegal material on this site as well.

“We already have evidence, and it is just the tip of the iceberg,” the petition states. “It’s time to shut down super-predator site Pornhub and hold the executives behind it accountable.”

The petition will be sent to the US Department of Justice, the FBI, US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and several US Congressmen.

Mickelwait’s organization was established to abolish commercial sex abuse, sexual exploitation, and global sex trafficking. Exodus Cry is based on two principles: altering mindsets and changing laws.

Dr. Melissa Farley, executive director of Prostitution Research & Education, said the petition is proposing a fair and moderate position. She said the actions which occurred on PornHub's watch are already illegal.

“Laila and her organization are taking a very reasonable stance. They're only talking about children and they're only talking about children that are being advertised for sale. Any prostitution of a child according to U.S. federal law is trafficking,” she told CNA.

“This is pictures of the trafficking of kids, in other words, pictures of the prostitution of children. To prosecute PornHub for profiting from photographs of the sexual assault of children for money...I'm delighted that her organization is taking this on.”

While Mickelwait did not originally plan to make a petition, she told CNA the initiative came about after she received feedback from people who were angry at the news regarding PornHub’s negligence regarding illegal material on its site.

“Everybody's in agreement that children should not be trafficked and raped. Women should not be trafficked and raped for profit, for the sexual pleasure of billions of people who visit that website. There's just no arguing with that,” she said.

During last year, 58 videos of sexual abuse and rape of a 15-year-old girl appeared on PornHub. The girl had been missing for a year when her mother found her on the adult website, leading to the arrest of her captor, Christopher Johnson, a 30-year-old Florida man.

Mickelwait said the 15-year-old girl had been approved by the supposed “verification system” of Pornhub, despite the girl being underage. She said that to upload a video, all that is needed is a valid email address.

“They had verified that 15 year-old-girl who was raped and assaulted on 58 videos on their platform … that was part of kind of what's been called an explosive revelation of what's happening on this website,” she said.

Michael James Pratt, head of GirlsDoPorn, was sued for over $12.7 million by 22 women who had been led to believe they were applying for “modeling jobs.” As it was actually a pornography shoot, the women who agreed to participate were told they would only appear on physical DVDs published in other countries and not online. The women were aged between 17 and 22.

Pratt is now facing charges in the US for trafficking and producing child pornography. He is reportedly on the run in New Zealand.

According to BBC, Rose Kalemba was abducted, beaten, and raped at age 14. Later a video of her sexual abuse appeared on PornHub. She found out about the videos through her classmates, who sent her links and bullied her for it.

After she discovered the videos, she would email PornHub over the next few months pleading for the content to be taken down and emphasizing her status as a minor, BBC reported. The website only obliged once she posed as her own lawyer.

Mickelwait said that because of the massive amount of content on Pornhub, she believes there are more instances of the sexual exploitation and child pornography than has been reported.

“If you go on my Twitter and you just scroll through, you could see case after case, after case, after case of instances where real rape, real trafficking is being uploaded to PornHub and PornHub is profiting off of that exploitation. It's a huge problem,” she said.

“If we know that there's 10, 12, 15, 20[cases], [then] there's probably hundreds, thousands [of cases of sexual exploitation]... We have no idea how huge this could be based on the amount of content they have on their site.”

Mickelwait said the company that owns PornHub has a monopoly on the pornographic industry, having consolidated nternet porn.

“When people do things that are not okay, they need to be held accountable for that. But it also sets a precedent and example for anybody else who would try to do something like this and allow it, promote it, profit off of it. The public in the world is not going to put up with that,” she said.

“If it can happen to the world's largest, richest, most powerful internet porn company, it could happen to anyone. I think that that's why this is particularly important.”

She said that viewers of pornography are also harmed: “Experimental exposure to porn leads men and women to have a diminished view of women's competence, morality, and humanity,” she said.

“Studies have been done that show that and demonstrate that when you watch hardcore violent pornography, it creates what's called permission-giving beliefs about rape. It makes people believe what's called the rape myths: that women want rape, that they deserve rape.”

Farley told CNA that all violent pornography is a problem, which may lead to extreme and violent fetishes or cases of prostitution. She said that all people harmed by sexual assaults in pornography should be compensated.

“My concern as somebody who's been studying the sex trade for 20 years is that pornography is filmed documentation of sexual assault, humiliation, degradation, threats, and things like that. So any photograph of sexual assault is a problem,” she said.

“I would go much further. I would say that any pornography that harms anyone, whether they're six, 16 or 60 years old, whether they're male, female, trans, anyone who's prostitution is filmed, who's abuse is film, if they can show harm, they should sue PornHub for just everything it's worth,” she added.

Tags: Human trafficking

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