PornHub scandal: Petition to shut down porn giant for sexual exploitation content hits 2M signatures

The campaign, 'Traffickinghub', is based on numerous cases of real videos of child sexual abuse, adult trafficking, assault, and rape, which are all monetized on Pornhub


                            PornHub scandal: Petition to shut down porn giant for sexual exploitation content hits 2M signatures
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Popular adult entertainment site Pornhub has been repeatedly slammed for allegedly hosting content that promotes sex trafficking and child sexual abuse. In the past year, several women have made public statements that videos of them being sexually assaulted and abused have surfaced on the website. After these allegations against Pornhub emerged, the popular entertainment website came under widespread scrutiny.

Laila Mickelwait, who founded a grassroots movement to end online sexual exploitation, then started a Change.Org petition aimed at shutting down the popular adult entertainment website. Mickelwait, the director of abolition at Exodus Cry, an international non-profit working towards eradicating sex-trafficking, started the petition after an op-ed she wrote in February 2020 for the Washington Examiner gained momentum. The campaign founder exposed the crimes of Pornhub for enabling and profiting from the non-sensual video content of women and children, with a call for justice. 

Now, eight months since the petition went viral, it has garnered two million signatories from 192 countries. The campaign, 'Traffickinghub', is based on numerous cases of real videos of child sexual abuse, adult trafficking, assault, and rape, which are all monetized on Pornhub. It also released a viral animated video earlier in the year, exposing Pornhub and its role in promoting video content feature sexual abuse, rape, and sex-trafficking, which has amassed 33M views globally. Since its inception, the movement has made headlines across hundreds of news and media outlets, drawn support from celebrity figures and inspired protests in front of Pornhub's offices in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California.

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Mickelwait's op-ed included credible evidence that she had compiled and called for the Pornhub to shutdown. She also revealed how a 15-year-old girl from Florida, who had been missing for a year, was located after her mother came across 58 videos of her sexual abuse and rape uploaded and monetized on the porn site. In another instance, the mortifying story of Rose Kalemba, came to light when she took to her social media to slam Pornhub for allegedly hosting sexual abuse content. Kalemba, who hails from Ohio, was taken at knife-point at 14 years old and raped for 12 hours, the videos of which were uploaded onto the adult entertainment platform. When she learned of the existence of these videos, she said she pleaded with the site for months to take down the videos, but in vain. Pornhub only took them all down after she posed as a lawyer and threatened legal action.

The petition inspired US Senator Ben Sasse to write a letter to attorney general William Barr, addressing the issue and demanding that the US Department of Justice open an investigation into Pornhub, as well as its parent company MindGeek. In Canada, a multi-part group of members of parliament sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging an investigation be conducted into the Pornhub's offices in Canada. Recently, Mickelwait also met with lawmakers in Washington DC to present a thorough, evidence-based case against the popular porn site, that amasses 42B visits per year. 'Traffickinghub' is a non-religious, non-partisan movement, powered by Exodus Cry and has a coalition with 300 anti-trafficking, child protection, and women's rights organizations.

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The campaign has also drawn support from professionals in the adult entertainment industry, who released a manifesto rejecting Pornhub and its illegal, exploitative practices."All it takes to upload content to Pornhub is an email address—no government-issued ID is required. Pornhub doesn't bother to reliably verify the age or the consent of the millions featured in the videos it hosts and profits from. The site is set up for exploitation and is infested with videos of the real rape, trafficking, abuse, and exploitation of women and children. We have significant evidence and it is just the tip of the iceberg. Pornhub is arguably the largest public collection of sexual exploitation evidence in existence," said Mickelwait, in a press statement obtained by MEA WorldWide. "Shut it down and lock them up.”

The Change.Org petition has influenced protests and empowered several victims to come forward to reach out to the campaign for assistance. In addition, Mickelwait is also trying to raise awareness about viewers being allegedly complicit to the abuse of women and children by creating a demand for the content when they participate in the website.