In 2006, it was estimated that, at $13.3 BILLION, the commercial sex industry in the U.S. brought in more revenue than the NFL, NBA and MLB combined.
The truth is, there has been a 50% decrease in revenue produced since then. Not because people are watching porn less, but due to access to free content. In fact, it is estimated that 70-80% of porn sites are free in the U.S. Unfortunately, porn consumption is reaching staggering heights. Porn sites receive more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon, & Twitter combined!
Despite the prevailing belief that porn is victimless, porn fuels trafficking, and in many cases, porn IS trafficking. The following are 7 ways to demonstrate how this happens:
- PORN = Gateway to Purchasing People for Sex
Porn addiction is progressive in nature. Dr. Victor B. Cline, a psychologist that treats people who suffer from porn addiction details the process of porn addiction in the following way:
- Addiction-Effect: “The porn-consumers got hooked. Once involved in pornographic materials, they kept coming back for more and still more.”
- Escalation-Effect: “With the passage of time, the addicted person required rougher, more explicit, more deviant, and “kinky” kinds of sexual material to get their “highs” and “sexual turn-ons.” It was reminiscent of individuals afflicted with drug addictions”
- Desensitization: “Material … which was originally perceived as shocking, taboo breaking, illegal, repulsive, or immoral, in time came to be seen as acceptable and commonplace”
- Increasing tendency to act out: In this phase people are more likely to sexually act out the behaviors viewed in the pornography, including hiring women in prostitution.
And in case you still believe the myth of the “happy hooker”, it is important to note that 84% of women in prostitution are under third-party control or pimped or trafficked.
In other words, it is very likely that the person whose porn addiction drives them to purchase a woman for sex is engaging in this transaction with a victim of commercial sexual exploitation/trafficking.
To reinforce Dr. Cline’s findings, 80% of survivors report that their customers showed them porn to illustrate the kinds of sexual acts they wanted. Some people argue that porn is a healthier/safer alternative for people who otherwise might be tempted to engage in sexually deviant behaviors. They say that it is an outlet for aberrant sexual desires. If this were true, consumers of pornography should be the least likely to hire women in prostitution. Unfortunately, research shows that the opposite is true. Watching porn increases the likelihood that the consumer will hire a prostituted person.
- Filmed without Consent or Knowledge
49% of women who have worked in prostitution report being filmed by their traffickers or johns. This is just the percentage of women who knew they were being filmed.
This footage is often streamed and or later distributed. A person viewing this type of pornography would have no way of knowing whether or not the person on the other end of the camera is a willing participant. In many cases, she is not.
In other scenarios, women and girls are drugged, raped and filmed. Again, the footage is streamed or distributed. Tragically, this is one of the tactics pimps are known to use to traffic their victims.
There is a noteworthy case in Miami where two men, one of them a former police officer, were convicted of trafficking using this very strategy to victimize aspiring models. Under the false promise of opportunities to book work, victims were lured in for a phony audition where they were required to consume and promote beverages on camera. Their drinks were laced with benzodiazepines. Once the drugs took effect, the women were raped and filmed, and the footage was sold all over the Internet and in porn stores across the U.S.
This is not an isolated incident. It just happens to be the one in the news. I have talked to several women whose traffickers have used the exact same tactics. The only difference is, their traffickers were never brought to justice.
- Footage Used as Blackmail
Often, footage, like the above, is used as blackmail to force women to comply with the commands of their traffickers. For example, she might be threatened that if she doesn’t do what they say, they will show the videos to her parents. I have known women who have experienced the shame of their family receiving pornographic videos and images of them when they tried to stand up to their exploiters.
- PORN Used to Advertise Victims
Pimps and traffickers look for ways to make more money. Often, they force their victims to do pornographic videos, because they can make more money when they advertise women in prostitution as “adult film stars” who are available as “escorts”.Consumers of such videos may not be aware that the women and girls in the videos are actually victims of trafficking.
- Live Videos
Unfortunately, the advances in live video technology have resourced traffickers with new avenues of sexual exploitation. Prostitution, which is often violent in nature, is live streamed and made available to consumers. In many cases, these videos involve minors and/or individuals who are being forced into prostitution. It is often impossible to distinguish between a video of a willing participant, and those containing victims of trafficking.
- Consent or Coercion
Finally, when it comes to the mainstream porn industry, there is the issue of consent versus coercion. It isn’t always black and white. There are a variety of situations where women who have reported they entered the porn industry by their own choice find themselves in precarious and even threatening situations where they are coerced, and sometimes forced, into performing acts outside of their boundaries.
We have already touched on the addictive and progressive nature of watching porn whereby the addicted person required rougher, more explicit material as time went on. Even in mainstream porn, there is an incredible display of violence against women. In a content analysis of the 50 top selling porn movies, 88% showed physical aggression towards women, primarily spanking, gagging and slapping.
Again, the demand for this type of content sets the stage for women (even those not operating under third-party control) to be coerced and exploited in order to meet the demand.
Here is what we hear from the women we serve who have been a part of the porn industry.
In many cases, women will accept a role in a pornographic film based on a fraudulent description of what she is signing up for. For example, she might be told that she is doing a soft-core, girl on girl scene. When she arrives on set, she discovers that she is not only expected to work with men, but that the scene will involve an act that is outside of her comfort zone or already established boundaries. As I write this, I am doing my best not to share things that might be too triggering or explicit, so I am leaving out the details. But I will tell you that I have heard stories of things women I care about were required to do in porn that would cause any compassionate person to lose several nights’ sleep.
In the scenario above, when a woman does not want to comply with what is being asked of her, she is often threatened with the loss of money or representation, or told that she will be sued for the time and money she is costing them by not doing what they want.
Often agents will resort to degradation as a means to coerce women into doing what they want. In her expose on porn, one woman shared her experience with this:
“Many agents will stoop to degrading their clients as a means of manipulating them to get what they want. They will call them names & tell them they are worthless. The worse they can make these girls feel about themselves, the more these girls are likely to do to win back their attentions. The agent/client relationship is really not that different from that of a pimp/prostitute. Everything is great as long as you’re making them money.”
Even in cases where women are “choosing” to work in porn, there are times when her will is thwarted and she finds herself coerced and threatened into performing degrading or violent acts that violate her personal boundaries. In these instances, a woman may go from being a willing participant in the porn industry to a victim of sexual exploitation.
- Child Pornography
By Federal definition, when a minor is used in a commercial sex act, it is considered sex trafficking, regardless of whether or not force, fraud or coercion can be proved. There is a growing demand for pornography of children, which is distributed online either commercially or peer to peer through exchanges between pedophiles.
According to the Association of Sites Advocating Child protection, the United States hosts more child porn than any other nation. Based on data analyzed through their hotline, most victims are 11 and under (59%) while a staggering 31% are between one and five years old. Jesus help us! As a mother, and a citizen of the world, I am having a hard time even writing this. It is important that we face reality. However, now might be a good time to pause to take a few deep breaths and whisper (or shout) some prayers.
Unfortunately, there has also been a growing demand for “teen porn”, representing 1/3 of total daily searches for porn sites. In fact, according to a Google Trends Analysis, searches for ‘Teen Porn’ have more than tripled between 2005-2013. With the sexual exploitation being fueled by demand, this tragic increase in demand means that now more than ever, our children are at risk.
Bottom line, overall, the link between porn and trafficking is strong and irrefutable. As long as we are seeing the levels of demand that we are experiencing, women and girls, as well as boys and men, will continue to be trafficked and exploited in order to meet this demand. The worst thing we can do is let the enormity of the issue paralyze us into inaction. It is up to you and I to put a stop to this.
This article is from a guest writer from the U.S.