Over 750 NGOs and survivors of sexual exploitation pressure Congress to investigate Pornhub

Special to CosmicTribune.com, May 31, 2021

The largest porn website in the world, Pornhub, has come under increasing criticism and scrutiny over the past several months for facilitating and profiting from the uploading and world wide online dissemination of child sexual abuse and other criminal sexual violence.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation calls Pornhub, “a criminal network operating in plain sight.”

In February, the Canadian House of Commons heard testimony by Serena Fleites, a survivor of child pornography distributed through Pornhub, and Michael Bowe, an American attorney who spent a year investigating MindGeek, the company which own’s Pornhub and over 160 other hardcore pornography websites and production companies.

Bowe testified that his investigation uncovered hundreds of instances of rape, abuse and trafficking on MindGeek sites, including one of a 15-year-old girl being raped, which was  published on Pornhub and distributed throughout her community. Pornhub refused to remove the video for three weeks, and then left it up two more months after claiming to have taken it down.

Fleites testified that at age 14 she had been pressured by her boyfriend to make a video of herself naked and send it to him. He then distributed to friends and the footage was eventually uploaded on Pornhub with the title, “13-year-old brunette shows off for the camera.”

It took weeks of pleading before the website removed videos of the minor, which were often re-uploaded by users. One video of Fleites at age 14 received 400,000 views. Her experience ultimately led to multiple suicide attempts and a meth addiction before age 19. She was homeless and living in a car at the time of the interview.

On April 9, the company became the focus of a U.S. Congressional Briefing. The briefing begins with the story of “Eva” who, also at age 14, became the cover image for Pornhub after she was groomed and secretly recorded during a Skype call.

“Why do videos of me from when I was 15 years old and blackmailed, which is child porn, continuously [get] uploaded?” another survivor wrote to Pornhub. “You really need a better system. … I tried to kill myself multiple times after finding myself reuploaded on your website.”

Now, 630 NGOs and 132 survivors of sexual exploitation have appeal to Congress to hold MindGeek and other pornography websites to standards which would mitigate the ongoing exploitation and to demand criminal investigation and prosecution for violation of federal sex trafficking and child protection laws.

Pornhub, is a Canadian company which has been described as “Jeffrey Epstein times 1,000,”attracts 3.5 billion visits per month, and is the 10th-most-visited website in the world. At an average of 115 million visits per day, the site out competes Netflix and Amazon for traffic, and ranks third behind Facebook and Google.

The company’s business model, the petition asserts, benefits from “facilitating and profiting from criminal acts including sex trafficking, filmed sexual abuse of children, and non- consensually recorded and distributed pornography.”

As Nicholas Kristof opined in the New York Times, the “site is infested with rape videos. It monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags. A search for ‘girls under18’ (no space) or ‘14yo’ leads in each case to more than 100,000 videos. Most aren’t of children being assaulted, but too many are.”

Obvious violators like Pornhub and sites like XVideos are joined by mainstream social media sites like Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook, where child pornography has frequently been uploaded. By the end of 2020, Facebook had removed 12.4 million images related to child exploitation, and Twitter closed a staggering 264,000 accounts for the same reason.

Google, by contrast, appears complicit. Searching Google for “young porn” returns 920 million videos. “Top hits,” Kristof reports, “include a video of a naked ‘very young teen’ engaging in sex acts on XVideo along with a video on Pornhub whose title is unprintable here.”

Whereas the Congressional briefing was sponsored by twelve leading anti-trafficking organizations, now hundreds of NGOs are joining the cause. Even an adult porn star who does business with Pornhub has said she believes commonsense regulation is needed, something she calls “insanely reasonable.”

Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the Washington-based National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said she believes it is time for Congressional action.

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