Are Pornography and Sex Trafficking Linked?

 

Author: Katie Dreger

Love is in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches once more, but that doesn’t always mean love in its most honest form. Rather, it can be a lust for something to be desired whether that’s jewelry, candy, or sex. What’s clear, pornography is one of the lust-driven industry that is growing exponentially. This article will cover pornography statistics, a definition of sex trafficking, and awareness on how pornography does have a link with sex trafficking.  

For the 7th year, Pornhub has reported insights into the world of porn. They boast about the number of visits, peak hours, number of searches, new video uploads, etc. In 2019, there were 4.2 billion visits to Pornhub, averaging 115 million visits per day; kindly equated to the “populations in Canada, Australia, Poland, and the Netherlands, combined!” A staggering 39 million searches and 6.82 million new videos were uploaded last year alone (Pornhub, 2019).

Dr. Laurie Petito is quoted in this article stating that more people are wanting to view “real” people and that is opening the doors for others to become amateurs. Dr. Petito is quoted saying “’anyone can be a porn star!’” which leaves room for a gray area for treatment of those who choose to try to be in porn videos (Pornhub, 2019). One article included the “categories viewed the longest in the U.S. (13 to 14 minutes),” one of which was the Amateur category, meaning not produced by commercial entities” (Castleman, 2017).

There is a longstanding debate between the ever-popular internet pornography as a catalyst for sex trafficking. To decide on this debate would require an understanding of the definition of sex trafficking and the commercial sex act, any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person. Sex trafficking is defined as: 

a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Minors under the age of 18 engaging in commercial sex are considered to be victims of human trafficking, regardless of the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Sex traffickers frequently target victims and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex industry for their own profit.

Fight the New Drug puts a spotlight on coercion,  it’s important. It means that a commercial sex act can be sex trafficking, even if no one was physically assaulted, even if no one was tricked or defrauded.

Within the definition of sex trafficking, there are words like coercion which is defined by federal laws as: threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process (22 U.S.C. 7102 (3)).

All it takes is coercion. The moment a victim is coerced or intimidated into a commercial sex act against his or her will, sex trafficking has occurred” (August 2017). They follow with examples:

An individual bullies their spouse into prostituting themselves. Trafficking. A boyfriend or girlfriend pressures their partner into stripping on a live webcam show and then threatens to show the partner’s family and friends if they don’t do it again. Trafficking. A porn performer shows up on set to discover that the scene is much more degrading than they’d been told, and their agent gets them to go through with it by threatening to cancel their other bookings. Again: trafficking…this is where the connections to pornography begin.

There is so much to read from Fight the New Drug, that we’ll share the link to learn more. https://fightthenewdrug.org/how-porn-fuels-sex-trafficking/#c21. Ultimately, survivors and victims coming forward with their reports and court case rulings against illegal acts, there have been clear links from pornography to sex trafficking. If you look at how porn makes it’s way onto the internet,  some methods are legitimate while we’re finding more of the methods are tainted. In one example, “a Miami jury convicted two men of luring women to Florida to audition for modeling jobs, drugging them, filming them being raped, and selling the footage as porn online and to stores across the U.S.” (Fight the New Drug, August 2017). Stories like this make porn and sex trafficking one and the same.

Stories like this make porn and sex trafficking one and the same.

National statistics from 2019 shows identified victims and survivors accounted for 9,280 of which 3,279 were high indicators and 7,001 were the moderate indicators. There were also over 5,000 from victims and survivors. Of those statistics, the highest type of trafficking was sex trafficking with 3,266 reported cases as of July 2019. Interestingly enough, pornography is rated the fourth top rated venue/industry for sex trafficking (Hotline Statistics).     

Revisiting the question of whether porn is a catalyst for sex trafficking, we can first look at what porn can correlate with. Research has shown that the “frequency of porn usage correlates with depression, anxiety, stress and social problems” (Fight the New Drug). In some cases, porn users want to emulate what they see on the screen in their actual sexual encounters. Another impact, “increased negative attitude(s) toward women, decreased empathy for victims of sexual violence…and an increase in dominating and sexually imposing behavior” (Fight the New Drug).

This blog is not meant to condemn pornography watchers. It is about raising awareness to what the behind the scenes of pornography and the exploitation involved. More so, it is about understanding the source of creation and what may transpire before the videos are uploaded. Just as we have been educated on child labor and exploiting labor, we should educate ourselves on the source of our “entertainment.”

 

References

  1. Castleman, M., M.A. (March 15, 2018). Surprising New Data From the World’s Most Popular Porn Site. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-sex/201803/surprising-new-data-the-world-s-most-popular-porn-site
  2. Fight the New Drug. (August 23, 2017). How Porn Fuels Sex Trafficking. Retrieved from: https://fightthenewdrug.org/how-porn-fuels-sex-trafficking/#c21
  3. Fight the New Drug. (August 23, 2017). The Porn Industry’s Dark Secrets. Retrieved from: https://fightthenewdrug.org/the-porn-industrys-dark-secrets/
  4. Fight the New Drug. July 29, 2019. By the Numbers: Is the porn industry connected to sex trafficking? Retrieved from: https://fightthenewdrug.org/by-the-numbers-porn-sex-trafficking-connected/
  5. National Human Trafficking Hotline. Sex Trafficking. Retrieved from: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/type-trafficking/sex-trafficking
  6. National Human Trafficking Hotline. Federal Laws. Retrieved from: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/what-human-trafficking/federal-law
  7. National Human Trafficking Hotline. Hotline Statistics. Retrieved from: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/states
  8. Silver, C. (December 11, 2019).  Pornhub 2019 Year in Review Report: More Porn, More Often. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/curtissilver/2019/12/11/pornhub-2019-year-in-review-report-more-porn-more-often/#3d8f29044671

 

 

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